"It was like finally seeing a painting finished that you had looked at for 30 years unfinished."
Thanks to a special pair of glasses, a man who has been colorblind his whole life was finally able to see colors the way the rest of the world does.
The video is absolutely heartwarming. The man is visibly overwhelmed by the experience and is struck when he looks into the eyes of his children, seeing their eyes in a vivid new way for the very first time.
The man's name is Opie Hughes, and he has a form of color vision deficiency (more commonly referred to as colorblindness).
One common misconception about color deficiency is that people with it see the world in black and white. That's not the case.
More often, it's that certain colors become somewhat indistinguishable from certain other colors, blending together.
For some quick examples of what the world might look like for someone with color deficiency, I ran a photo through the Color Oracle colorblindness simulator.
With this photo of my trusty assistant/dog Meatball, we can see what three different forms of color deficiency might look like:
I had a chance to chat with Opie Hughes about what those first few moments with the glasses were like.
"The whole experience as seen in the video is more the culmination of everything going on between the excitement, the environment, the nervousness, and the actual effect of the glasses," he tells me. "The actual effect was still pretty amazing, and the best part is they only get better as your eyes adjust."
Hughes walked me through his experience with color deficiency, describing it as a world of "duller, blended colors."
For him, colors split into three separate groups that blend together, as shown here on this image I put together. Blues were hard to differentiate from purples, pink could be difficult to tell apart from white, and so on.
"Those three major groups are kind of just blended together," he tells me. "So, it's not as if I'd never seen my babies' blue eyes before, but when all the other colors around those eyes just meshed together into a detail-less mash of color, it was very unnoticeable that their eyes were so vibrant. ... It was like finally seeing a painting finished that you had looked at for 30 years unfinished."
A California company called EnChroma makes the glasses.
The manufacturing process is a little tough to grasp for those of us (like me) who aren't optometrists. But basically, it comes down to a series of high-tech filters. They do note, however: "We don't claim that this is a cure for color blindness — it is not a cure. Like any eyeglass product, it is an optical assistive device."
As for Hughes, he tells me that he wears his glasses as often as he can and considers them a sort of "fourth child."
"The glasses are my fourth child, really," he says. "Kept clean and protected and by my side at all times possible. I would be heartbroken if anything ever happened to them."
"I have yet to put them on and not find myself shaking my head in disbelief at something I had walked past, or seen for so many years unnoticed that now pops," he excitedly tells me.
"The tree in my yard has pink flowers. I always thought they were white! I've seen shades of purple I always thought were just black! The colors in the sunset are ridiculous! That was usually just blue and orange, now it's blue purple red orange yellow, so much more to everything!"