Zebra Misc

Colorblind Vet Student Sees Alexandria in Full Spectrum for the First Time

Rob wears his glasses to an outing at Mt. Vernon with his girlfriend. (Photo courtesy of Rob Oswald)

Alexandria, VA – “I have never seen a rainbow,” Rob Oswald, a student of Veterinary Medicine in Grenada and Alexandria, used to say.

Oswald moved around when he was a child, although with his father in McClean and his girlfriend in Alexandria, he spends much of his time in Alexandria when he can. However, he has not always been able to fully see Alexandria.

Oswald has Strong Protan colorblindness, a type of colorblindness that is so strong that Oswald can only see between 2 and 3 hues of color compared to the usual 7. One unique pair of glasses fixed that: The EnChroma Color Blind Glasses.

Oswald recently invested in these world-changing glasses. “I was at The Italian Place one day, and I tried them on, and I could see the different red shades in the building across the street! I never knew that red had that many shades,” states Rob of his first encounter with accurate color.

“Normal people see over one million hues and shades. Colorblind people see about only ten percent of that,” explains Kent Streeb, director of public relations and partnerships for EnChroma. “What EnChroma glasses do is they contain special optical filters, and they expand the range of colors that the colorblind can see.”

Colorblindness is genetic. Oswald inherited his from his maternal grandfather. From about eight years old, he has known of his condition. “I missed out on a lot of things,” Oswald says. “Everyone always says how beautiful the leaves are in the fall. To me, they are all red or brown, nothing really special.”

While certainly disappointing, missing out on these natural beauties growing up never posed true problems for Oswald until he ventured into medicine. When studying slides in the lab, everything looked like the same shade of red. Different dyes did not help, and as Oswald traversed further into his studies, the difficulties imposed by colorblindness became more prominent. Then he came across an advertisement that posed a potential solution.

EnChroma technology was created by Don McPherson, Ph. D. in Glass Science, Chief Science Officer, Co-Founder, and Inventor of EnChroma. Over a decade ago, McPherson discovered that his other company, which made glasses for surgeons to differentiate between specific tissue types and protect from lasers, also had color-enhancing effects. He began experimenting with their effect on the colorblind, and thus EnChroma was born in 2010.

Rob wears his EnChroma sunglasses to the beach in Grenada. (Photo courtesy of Rob Oswald)

Oswald had discovered EnChroma in 2015 but was initially hesitant, fearing disappointment that this technology would not assist his severe case of colorblindness. As EnChroma’s technology advanced, however, Oswald changed his tune.

“My dad just said, ‘Pull the trigger. What is the worst that can happen?’” explains Oswald. So that is what he did in July of 2021, and his glasses have been on his face ever since.

Currently pursuing his degree in Veterinary Medicine at St. George’s University in Grenada, Oswald uses his EnChroma glasses in his studies and social life every day. “It is always a little mind-blowing every time I put them on. It is always a jaw dropping moment the first few steps outside,” he details. Making colors more vibrant, distinct, saturated, and clear, the EnChroma glasses have helped Oswald not merely cope with his colorblindness but thrive despite it.

EnChroma has a variation of glasses for different types of colorblindness. They make indoor eyeglasses, as well as outdoor sunglasses. They currently only sell the outdoor sunglasses with the technology to combat Strong Protan colorblindness but are making strides every day and everywhere.

You can find EnChroma on their website, at your local eye care professional, or online at Amazon.

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