Rebecca Leclair's son Dane has had a color vision deficiency since birth. Most people describe the genetic defect as colorblindness and while it's a condition that does not hurt you, it certainly makes life a little less colorful.
When he finished his sophomore year at Loyola Chicago and returned home for the summer, she had a present waiting for him: Color Vision Glasses. On Thursday, they went to the Lilac Festival at Highland Park for an experience he'll never forget.
I knew my youngest son Dane was colorblind before he turned three -- he was always mixing up his colors. He always said he loved yellow Gatorade, but always picked up the green bottle to drink! Since the condition runs in my family (my paternal grandfather, my three male cousins all have varying degrees of colorblindness), I realized I was the carrier and had presented Dane with a life of seeing everything kind of grey and brown.
The gene gets passed down through mothers -- so I am the guilty party! Dane never complained though and put up with his siblings always making fun of how he picked out his outfits.
Normally, the only reason my son Dane would enjoy going to the Lilac Festival is to get a funnel cake and do some people watching. Looking at flowers really loses its luster because he has what doctors call a color vision deficiency.
Before we went to Highland Park, we went to our ophthalmologist at the Flaum Eye Institute.
"You and I know that this is a hereditary problem and it came from me, so I feel kind of guilty that I've done this to my son," I said to Dr. Michael Depaolis.
"Don't feel guilty--you had no say over this condition," he answered back.
They tested Dane to check his severity and it didn't take long to tell the colors he couldn't see very well.
The eye doctor told us Dane will have trouble at discerning shades of red, shades of green, some browns and some oranges, "Because all those kinds of things get muddied. His red and green cones (color receptors on the back of his eye) are not functioning properly. Yet, his blue cones are fine."
Back at Highland Park, we finished the funnel cake and headed straight to the pansy bed.
I pulled out a package and said, "Let's try on these color vision goggles I got you. See if it makes a difference."
Dane did what his mother told him, put on the glasses and said, "Whoa! So like... no way... these things are so different! Those yellow? Those are like orange now!"
"You can totally see the rim of the pansy bed. There's a cross beam that goes across it!" And I asked, "You never saw that before?"
"I saw the whites... and the pinks... Is that pink now?" he asked in disbelief.
It took him a while to adjust to the new versions of colors he had never seen before.
"These are so weird."" he exclaimed!
"You're 20 years old and this is the first time you've seen red?" his mother asked.
"Those are red now. Those used to be brown. Oh my goodness! They are so much more lively," Dane responded.
And, of course, we had to stop and smell the lilacs and already Dane's excited to visit art galleries.
"Maybe I should go back and see what it's actually like -- see some Monets that would probably be really cool because he really blends the colors," says Dane.
But most of all, I can release a little mother's guilt.
Rebecca: "Do you forgive your mother for giving you the gene?"
Dane: "Yes... yes. Now that you've given me glasses to help me see."
You can buy color vision glasses off the internet. They range in price from $50 to nearly $1,000. They won't hurt your eyes in any way, but it's always best to get your eyes tested by a professional.
Originally published by News 10 NBC