Color Vision Deficiency Survey in Anatomic Pathology

Thomas J. Flotte, Lynn D. Cornell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To learn what color vision-deficient pathologists and cytotechnologists consider their most significant problems and advantages as well as any accommodations. Methods: An anonymous online survey developed for practicing pathologists and cytotechnologists regarding their experiences with stains was sent to the members of 4 national societies. Results: We received 377 responses. Twenty-three people, all men, identified themselves as color vision deficient, with 22 reporting red-green color vision deficiency and 1 reporting uncertain type. Eight pathologists and cytotechnologists indicated that they thought that their color vision deficiency conferred advantages to them, including a greater appreciation of morphology, with less confusion resulting from variations in stain quality or intensity. Nineteen pathologists and cytotechnologists thought that their color vision deficiency conferred disadvantages; the most common disadvantages stated were the identification of eosinophils and acid-fast bacilli. Other difficulties included interpretation of RBCs and nucleoli and sometimes Alcian blue, Brown and Brenn, Congo red, crystal violet, Fite, Giemsa, mucicarmine, periodic acid-Schiff, and fluorescence in situ hybridization stains. Only 2 of the color vision-deficient pathologists and cytotechnologists found digital slides more difficult than glass slides. Conclusions: Color vision-deficient pathologists and cytotechnologists report that they have developed approaches to viewing slides that do not compromise their interpretations. Digital pathology may provide several approaches for aiding color vision-deficient pathologists with the interpretation of certain stains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)516-520
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of clinical pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


  • Color vision deficiency
  • Digital pathology
  • Human vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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