Glasses Let Color-Blind See Red Light (Sep, 1940)

This seems like a pretty good idea. Of course it’s not as necessary anymore since we have standardized stop lights. You can just tell which light is on by it’s position.

Glasses Let Color-Blind See Red Light

TO ENABLE color-blind motorists to determine whether a traffic light is red or green, a New York City optical firm has just introduced special glasses. The spectacles are made in two sections, the upper consisting of a segment of dark-red filter glass, and the lower of clear crown glass, although optically ground eye-correction lenses may be employed for those who ordinarily wear glasses when driving. With the spectacles on, the color-blind driver looks through the red filter section of the lenses as he approaches a traffic light. If he sees any light at all in the traffic standard, he knows that it must be either red or amber, the “stop” or “caution” signal, since the filter blocks out all rays emanating from the green “go-ahead” light, while admitting the others. Since eye specialists estimate that one person in every twenty-five is colorblind, the filter glasses should make an important contribution to the problem of increasing traffic safety.

  1. Rick Auricchio says: July 21, 20078:43 pm

    The design is flawed because it doesn’t fail safely.

    If the red light bulb were to fail, the driver would always think he had a green light—very dangerous.

    A safe system would have a green filter. Then, the driver would stop in the absence of a good green light.

    But I don’t think the filters work like that: it’s much easier to make a red filter work.

  2. Alexander Sorokin says: January 14, 200812:51 pm

    I’m sure you aren’t colorblind. The problem comes from a single blinking light. It could be either red or yellow and I don’t see a difference! I always look for the stop sign. I never confuse red light and green light. I have to say that a red light with bright white flash is a far superior design.

    I think that a green filter for the glasses might indeed be superior to the red filter. This might bring the perception of a color-blind person closer to normal color vision.

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  4. Chris Sebes says: August 14, 20081:18 pm

    Back in the 1940s this might have been a problem if the red light was out, because many intersections only had one signal. Today’s intersections have multiple signals, not only for increased visibility, but also for light failure. With the addition of LEDs in the signals, light failures are extremely rare. If the concept works, it has merit today.

  5. K!P says: February 13, 20106:58 am

    eehm, isnt this why they (at least over here) standardized the design? RED on top, Green at bottom.

  6. JMyint says: May 27, 20106:58 am

    There is a company that makes lenses to help with colour vision. They must be fitted by an optometrist.…

  7. Firebrand38 says: May 27, 201010:04 am

    I also came across this contact lens based system from 1978…

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