Glasses let them see spec­trum of hues

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - ASH­LEY MARTIN twit­­leym

REGINA Seven-year-old Kyle Ayars was shop­ping with his grandma when he no­ticed a cool toy car.

It was bright green, he thought. The car was ac­tu­ally gold, but Ayars couldn’t see it.

Now 19, Ayars works as an au­to­body tech­ni­cian in Moose Jaw. He paints cars for a living, which is not with­out its chal­lenges, since Ayars is colour blind.

“It’s def­i­nitely some­thing that’s im­pacted my job in life,” said Ayars, a Saskatchewan Polytech­nic stu­dent. “Es­pe­cially when you get a colour that’s got six or seven dif­fer­ent vari­ants. It gets to be a lit­tle bit of a chal­lenge.”

Cars also made Ali Al­bay­ati aware of his colour blind­ness for the first time as a teenager.

“I’d call let’s say a brown car, orange, and my bud­dies would be like ‘what the f---,’ ” said Al­bay­ati, 21, another au­to­body tech­ni­cian and stu­dent.

Colour match­ing ’s “a big is­sue” in his work, he said.

But it may not be af­ter Thurs­day.

At SPEX By Ryan op­ti­cal store in Regina, Al­bay­ati, Ayars and Alex Leveille each ob­tained pairs of Enchroma glasses, which al­lowed them to see a full spec­trum of colour for the first time.

“Wel­come to colour,” store owner Ryan Horne said to each of them. About colour-blind­ness, Horne ex­plained, “Typ­i­cally the red and the green colour spec­trum are kind of over­lapped, and what th­ese lenses are do­ing is cut­ting off and re­mov­ing some of that light spec­trum to get more sep­a­ra­tion.”

Red-green colour blind­ness af­fects one in 12 men and one in 200 women, ac­cord­ing to Enchroma, a com­pany based in Berke­ley, Calif.

Horne’s store is the first in Saskatchewan to carry Enchroma glasses, which he said are free to try.

Af­ter don­ning his glasses, Ayars looked at a bunch of bal­loons in orange, red, green and yel­low.

“Be­fore it was just a yel­low and two reds, but now there’s green,” said Ayars. “It’s crazy. You don’t think it’s that bad un­til it fixes it­self.”

With­out the glasses, Ayars ex­plained, “If there was a green and a yel­low side by side, it would just all look like yel­low — well, a lit­tle darker yel­low than the one be­side it.”

“Usu­ally I can tell that I’m see­ing a colour wrong be­cause it has an al­most rust colour to it ... but I can’t tell what colour I am see­ing,” Leveille said. With his glasses on, look­ing at a Ru­bik’s Cube, Leveille noted, “I didn’t know that green was this vi­brant.”

Now 25, Leveille was in Grade 1 when he first re­al­ized that he didn’t see all colours.

“I mixed up green and brown a lot,” said Leveille. “(My teacher) didn’t think I was colour blind; she thought I maybe learned the wrong colour names or some­thing like that.”

Point­ing out a pur­ple, orange and green bou­quet on a table at Spex, Leveille said, “I’m pretty ex­cited to go flower shop­ping, I think, be­cause th­ese look pretty cool.”

“Those of us who are not colour-de­fi­cient, we do have it very lucky be­cause the world is a beau­ti­ful, colour­ful place,” said Horne.

“Es­pe­cially spring, sum­mer in Saskatchewan is just full of colour, you know? Sun­sets, chang­ing leaves in the fall, all sorts of things.”

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Alex Leveille, 25, tries on a pair of Enchroma glasses that help peo­ple with colour blind­ness see a fuller spec­trum of colour. SPEX by Ryan in Regina is the first re­tailer in the prov­ince to carry the line of eye­wear and of­fers free tri­als in-store. Red-green colour blind­ness af­fects one in 12 men, and one in 200 women.

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