Science is here to tell us something that anyone in a relationship already knows: (some) women do really see the world differently.
Ha! Ok, enough late-night-talk-show-host sexism – but the other part of the sentence is totes true. Some women develop a condition called tetrachromacy which influences retina development and allows them to see colours that most of us miss completely.
Tetrachromats not only see more intense versions of the colours that us normal humans see, they see colours that aren’t there. Vivid violets, striking sapphires, lucid lilacs and resplendent reds – all from what would seem to others to be a dull, grey facade.
Aussie art teacher Concetta Antico told the BBC that she had the condition for years before she realised it, saying that her students would just nod out of agreement when she would tell them about the shimmering pinks across the surface of bland grey rock.
Tetrachromats can also differentiate between colours that appear identical to others, meaning that when you see ‘yellow’, some women can really differentiate between canary, maize, lemon, aureolin, mellow, cobalt and school bus.
Ha! Hey fellas, that’s why it’s so hard to pick out a colour to paint the house, right? Am I right fellas? That’s why ladies take so long to pick a dress, right? Badum-tish! Ok, that’s the last one. Promise.
While researchers haven’t ruled out the potential for men to develop the condition, they concede it is unlikely. The gene for red and green cone types – the cone types that lead to the condition – are found on the X chromosome, of which women have two.
So for men who want to develop superhuman vision, you will probably have to go with a pair of iOptik lenses, which give you enhanced sight but unfortunately just the same old regular bland colours. Or order those x-ray specs of the back of a comic book (the ones with the skeleton painted on the lenses).
What do men get, then? If they are blind, science sez that they see nothing.
If they are not blind? Colourblindness. While women can also be colourblind, the rate is much lower (0.5 per cent of women compared to 8 per cent of men). Men actually have the same chance of colourblindness as women do of tetrachromacy. Great.
At least men with colour-blindness can always buy a pair of incredibly expensive purple glasses that not only enable you to restore a degree of normal sight, but also enable you to look like Bono.