A young woman who was born colorblind now sees in color for the first time — at age 22 — thanks to generous classmates who raised money to buy her a special pair of glasses.
Savannah Allen had enrolled at UC Blue Ash College to follow her dream of becoming a pediatric dental hygienist, but she quickly realized something she hadn’t considered before: that being colorblind might become a major roadblock in her journey.
“I didn’t really know going into the program that it would be so important to be able to see lesions and to distinguish different cavities and things that are very similar in color to either gum tissue or just the enamel of the teeth,” Allen told Local 12. She realized it was a problem, though, when one of her instructors pointed out all the spots she was missing while scaling a patient, according to WLWT 5.
Allen, a wife and mom, worried she might have to drop out of the program because of her inability to see color correctly. “If I see green, it’s usually brown,” she explained. “And if I see red, it’s usually brown.”
She confided in a group of classmates about her condition, and they were shocked. “She’s never seen the color of the ocean or the sky or the grass,” said Judith Reyes. “It was just crazy to us.”
Her friends, not content with letting colorblindness stand in Allen’s way, took it upon themselves to research treatments for colorblindness, and they came across colorblind-assisted contacts and glasses. They decided to focus on a pair of EnChroma glasses as a potential solution to Allen’s condition.
Then they set up a GoFundMe page to raise the $400 necessary to buy the spectacles, which use a special lens technology to help wearers see a broader range of colors. They said they almost gave the money directly to Allen to buy the glasses themselves, but ultimately decided it would be more fun to surprise her — and to capture on video Allen’s first multicolor experience.
The classmates gifted the glasses to her in front of the entire dental hygiene class, and upon putting them on, Allen immediately dropped to the floor in disbelief. “You guys are so beautiful!” she said through tears. She told Local 12 that her new perspective has “completely changed my life.”
“It was amazing. It was truly amazing,” said classmate Gabrielle White of witnessing Allen’s reaction. “Seeing color[ is] something we took for granted.” Classmate Isabella Perrin added, “It was really nice to see everyone come together for one person.”
Allen’s instructors are delighted, too. UC Blue Ash College’s dental hygiene program director, Biz McClure, told Local 12, “The way that it has changed Savannah’s life is profound.”
Now that being colorblind is no longer a setback for Allen, she’s focused on making her professional dreams a reality. “I don’t want anybody to feel like they can’t pursue something that they love just because of something that’s a disability, because it’s not,” she said. “It’s just the way we were born. It’s just different.”
Many people who are colorblind their whole lives are largely unaware that they see things differently, according to the National Eye Institute. As a woman, Allen is in the minority among colorblind people. About eight percent of men live with some form of the condition, as compared to only 0.5 percent of women.
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