Super Vision

Did you know that you are a trichromat? It means you have three cones in your eyes enabling you to see colour. As a result, you see about one million distinct tints, shades and hues. Scientists have recently discovered that one percent of the population are considered to be tetrachromats – individuals who have four cones in their eyes. Because it takes time for the brain to absorb this additional visual information, tetrachromats do not necessarily see any more colours that the rest of us.

However, scientists have identified several tetrachromats who are capable of seeing the full range of colours that their fourth cone offers. It has been determined that one needs two X chromosomes to see this expanded spectrum, so this unusual dexterity is limited to women. For these few lucky individuals, it allows them to discern up to 100 million colours. That's one hundred times the colours that the rest of us see. The first tetrachromat known to mankind was discovered in Cambridge, England in 1993 and researchers are working on perfecting a test to identify others who may also have this remarkable “super vision.”

Concetta Antico, one of the world's few known tetrachromats, has this to say about her special ability, “Let’s take mowed grass. Someone who doesn’t have this genetic variation might see bright green, maybe lights or darks in it. I see pinks, reds, oranges, gold in the blades and the tips, and gray-blues and violets and dark greens, browns and emeralds and viridians, limes and many more colors – hundreds of other colors in grass. It’s fascinating and mesmerizing.”