Daltonism – Named after John Dalton

John Dalton was the first scientist to take academic interest in the subject of color blindness. He was born September 6, 1766 in Eaglesfield, England and died July 27, 1844 of paralysis. One of the first scientific papers John Dalton published was titled “Extraordinary facts relating to the vision of colours” and released in 1793.

John Dalton
John Dalton

Starting his career as a teacher he got interested in meteorology and mathematics. As Jonathan, his seven years older brother and John himself both were affected by red-green color blindness he also started some observations and researches about color vision.

“That part of the image which others call red appears to me little more than a shade or defect of light. After that the orange, yellow and green seem one colour which descends pretty uniformly from an intense to a rare yellow, making what I should call different shades of yellow”

He postulated that shortage in color perception was caused by discoloration of the liquid medium of the eyeball called aqueous humour. According to his research he believed that the aqueous humour was bluish and therefore filtered out all the colors. His observations and writings formed the expression Daltonism as a common wording for color blindness.

Through his lifetime John Dalton became a well known and respectable chemist and physicist and was one of the early proponents of the Atomic Theory. One of his last wills was to get an autopsy of his eyes after death. Unfortunately there wasn’t any bluish liquid found. It was his final experiment and proved that the condition called Daltonism is not caused by the eye itself, but some deficient sensory power.

Further readings:
WWNFF: John Dalton
Biography of John Dalton
Wikipedia: John Dalton
Notable Names Database: John Dalton

Related articles:
Mars in the Eyes of Colorblind Astronomer Schiaparellli
5 Misbeliefs about Color Blindness

16 responses on “Daltonism – Named after John Dalton

  1. Robert

    Thanks for this blog. I’m colorblind as well, and I’m astonished how much and how interesting you blog about this topic. Through your blog, I’m discovering colorblindness in a new way.

  2. Chris

    Apart from John Dalton, I thought it might be interesting to list famous colourblind people. Here’s a partial list, which anyone can add to: Anthony Burgess (British Author); Bill Clinton (ex-President USA); Tom Waits (American Musician); George Michael (British Musician); William Hague (British Politician).

  3. ben Dover

    THANKS SOOOO MUCH! i needed this for my science project! 5 pages is aloottt, and i only have 4 :'( oh well, thankss again! (;

  4. Chu Seow Phin

    Ishihara, a japanese, he had invented the color test kit to detect colorblind, and John Dalton a colorblind scientist had invented the atomic structure and two atomic bomb were dropped in Japan.