Actor Peter Elliott steps into a new world of colour

  • 07/09/2009

Colour blind actor Peter Elliott walked out of a west Auckland optometrist a few weeks ago into a world of colour he barely knew existed.

He was wearing a new lens which largely corrected his colour blindness and Mr Elliott said things looked "completely and utterly different".

"In fact the whole world changed and at one stage I got quite upset because suddenly I was seeing things I had never seen in my life before," Mr Elliott said.

Mark Gaunt, from For Eyes, an optometrist in Kumeu west of Auckland and one of only two optometrists in New Zealand importing the lenses from Japan, said the lens "tricked" the receptors in the eye which worked, into seeing colours.

Mr Gaunt said they could be used with prescription glasses but could not yet be made into a prescription lens. About eight percent of the New Zealand population was colour blind, most of them male.

Mr Elliott said he had severe colour blindness and would order a pair within the next few weeks although he said at $2000 for the consultation, the lens and the frames, they were not cheap.

Mr Elliott began his working life as a photo engraver at the same time Peter Jackson began his working life, also as a photo engraver.

However, Mr Elliott said because of his colour blindness he could not work on colour.

“I did the test and since then I was not allowed a pilot's licence and all sorts of things," he told NZPA.

Mr Elliott, who won the best supporting actor award at the New Zealand film and television awards at the weekend for his role in the movie Until Proven Innocent, said he could not see reds and greens. The new lens, which had been in New Zealand about 18 months, would make his colour vision near normal.

He said he had never seen the red flowers of a pohutukawa tree in full bloom or other reds and greens people with normal vision took for granted.

Matthew Whittington, also from For Eyes, said the new lens had taken years to develop but could change people's lives.

He said for colour blind people it usually meant a re-education in colour because they did not know colours.

"A lot of colour-deficient people have never seen red. When you show them red they are almost unbelieving. If you can image red as grey, that is what they see. For some people there is no red in red, it is grey."

Mr Whittington said seeing new colours could be "quite unsettling" for some people and many felt "quite aggrieved' they were born colour blind once they began to see the colours seen by people with ordinary vision.

NZPA

source: newshub archive


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