tetrachromat @ what we can’t see


About 2% of women and no known man can see colors that others cannot see.  They have the ability to see additional colors due to a mutation which creates the oppositive effect of color blindness or deficiency.

The mutation enhances and add’s color to the human visible spectrum.   The women have an additional cone retinal cell or photoreceptor.  Men and most women have three cones, these women have four photoreceptors.  This enables them to see 100 times the color most of us can see.

If you have an interest in the details of “how” or “why” click here

If all people with tetrachromat physiology have a fourth cone, can all of them automatically see 100 times more color?  

No,  this is because the receptor is there to receive the color wavelength but the brain is wired for normal receptors and doesn’t process the other colors.  There are also other physical factors that limit their ability.

Researchers estimate that 12% of women have the extra receptor but they lack a light-absorbing opsin molecule required to process the wavelength.   The end result is the person sees more color in the visible light spectrum.

As a man, I will never have a fourth cone.  I will never see the colors the 2% of women see.  I wonder how many of us as artists would benefit from having a person with this ability with us to consult as we create an image.

What does it mean to a person to have this ability to see extra colors? 

What happens when other people want this ability which comes naturally to women?

Is there some genetic modification they could obtain to gain access to this ability?

What about the fact that at this time, it is only women and not men?

When I think about diversity,  I consider the way that people “see” things.

How does their view of the world impact how they perceive the world holistically?

Theoretically speaking the women with this extra receptor and opsin molecule could plaster messages all over the world and we would never know the messages are there.


colorful abstract painting
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there. 

When someone has the ability to see something that we can’t see, we have to trust them. 

When someone can see something different they bring a different perspective, it can impact our world.  We have to consider this when we think about diversity of thought?

What do you think?