RE: Technical competence

From:"Smith, Allen"

Actually, only male in 12 is red/green color blind.  One woman in 150 is
red/green color blind.  Blue-violet color blindness is extremely rare.  Most
color blind boys learn to compensate before they reach college, and the
issue doesn't arise.  For those who haven't learned to compensate, a black &
white histology atlas such as the old Reith and Ross is very helpful.
I am told that red/green color blind men see both colors as yellow.  This
has no effect on the perception of a good H&E stain.  It improves the
contrast between hematoxylin and fast green and the contrast between cresyl
violet and phloxine.  When azocarmine and fast green are involved, one falls
back on shade and shape.
The frequency of red/green color blindness suggests that our ancestors
needed one color blind hunter in the party to see through bad (based
exclusively on color) camouflage.  The standard test for color blindness is
to ask if a man can see a badly camouflaged numeral.  If he can, he's color

Allen A. Smith, Ph.D.
Barry University
School of Graduate Medical Sciences
    Podiatric Medicine and Surgery
Miami Shores, Florida  33161-6695 

-----Original Message-----
From: Amos Brooks []
Sent: Thursday, June 13, 2002 4:15 PM
Cc: 'Histonet'
Subject: Re: Technical competence

    I hope colorblindness isn't something that would make one "incompetent"!
I think the statistic is 1:4 males are colorblind. If that were true then
we'd loose 25% of our male techs. That's just nutty. Colorblind people often
don't even know they are because the mind extrapolates the colors it knows
it should be seeing. It only gets confused in complicated patterns. Many
pathologists just ask for a different counterstain and they have no problem.
Techs could do similar work arounds.
Amos Brooks
(not colorblind ... :-)

----- Original Message -----
Cc: "'Histonet'" 
Sent: Thursday, June 13, 2002 3:40 PM
Subject: Re: Technical competence

> I agree with Kim and I have also known a great pathologist that was
> colorblind . I dont believe the original question was meant to screen
> people out anymore than you would screen someone out because they were
> far-sighted but rather how to help train them to do the job with the
> disadvantage. While a pathologist's training allows them not to be
> dependent on color to determine cell type even in special stains it may be
> an impediment to a histo tech that is checking to make sure the procedure
> was carried out correctly. I would be interested in knowing what part of
> the technician's job will be affected by colorblindness and the problems
> that Betty has encountered.
> Anita
> I have actually known a couple of pathologists that were colorblind (they
> were
> both excellent pathologists)!  If a pathologist can be colorblind, I'm
> that a histologist could be colorblind too.
> Kim Merriam
> Cambridge, MA

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