I am what Dr. Ishihara says I am

Posted on February 13, 2009

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Around May 2008,  I got accepted into my dream company, and I had to undergo a pre-employment exam. At the clinic, the successive tests were going smoothly and I thought I would be out of there in no time. Then I got to a nurse who made me sit in front of her, showed me a card with colored dots, and asked me to tell her what number I see. The card is something like this:

Ishihara test

Ishihara test - tell me what number you see

I thought she was joking; obviously, they are just random colored dots, right? I remembered that stupid powerpoint file forwarded through email. Every slide has a picture like the one above, and at the last slide, you get a screaming monster or something.

Anyway, so I smiled at her and said “Huh?”.  She repeated her request, as if speaking to a child…and I said “what?” and told her I can’t see any number. Incredulous, she turned to the next picture, and told her I still can’t see any number.  By the third picture, she was looking at me strangely, as if I am blind…

Then when we finished the 20th picture, she gave it to me: I am color-blind. My score was 2 correct answers out of 20.

Blank.

Blink blink.

I didn’t know what to say. When I learned I had scoliosis, I was happy. Maybe because I was finally able to confirm what is wrong with my back. At least, I know what I can do to improve my back so it doesn’t hurt all the time. But color-blindness? I never would have guessed. Of course, there were random times when I kept referring to a pair of socks as “yellow” and someone would correct me and tell me it’s green. And the times I would insist that the Stabilo Boss highlighter is yellow, not green. But it never occurred to me that I was color-blind; I am myopic/near-sighted since high school and my vision is not perfect.

The nurse administered the test to me a second time, as if I wasn’t confused enough. Other nurses were looking at us with great interest, and I felt like I was a lab rat or something. Good thing I remembered my previous answers and I guessed one answer right…so my “revised” score was 3/20. Plus one does not make my eyes normal, though, I am afraid.

That picture above? I cannot see any number at all. During the test, I found out that I cannot distinguish green from yellow, and red from orange from brown. The most common color-blindness type is red-green color-blindness, and I think I fall under that. Otherwise, doctors should probably be studying me now, because I am as rare as “rare” can be!

So I am color-blind, what’s the big deal? Apparently for her, it is a big deal. She told me that in all her years of medical practice, she has never encountered a color-blind female, and that medical research say color-blindness is very rare in females. So what does that make me, an XY chromosome?

I really don’t understand why a pre-employment exam had to include a color-blindness test. In all the other companies I worked for, there was no such thing in the medical exams. With growing concern, I asked the nurse if it will hurt my chances of becoming a regular employee, she said “definitely not” and with that, I gave a huge sigh of relief 🙂 But she did tell me that…color-blindness is not curable, and I am stuck with this deficiency for the rest of my life. But of course. I wasn’t thinking I could buy a pill to cure it.

The things I have do make some nice conversation (and apparently, blog posts too): I was born premature (7 months), I have scoliosis and I am color-blind. BUT no more surprises, please. My body can only take so much. 😀

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Posted in: Beauty & Health