Aaron Williams-Mele puts on a pair of EnChroma colorblindness glasses for the first time and sees his first full-color sunset. Video screenshot by Danny Gallagher/CNET
Watching someone watching something on a YouTube video sounds like a sign that humanity has officially jumped the shark. However, in this case, the person you’re watching is someone who is watching something he probably thought he’d never be able to see: a sunset, in full, glorious color.
YouTuber Aaron Williams-Mele received a pair of EnChroma corrective colorblindness glasses from his parents for his birthday. During a trip to Whitehurst Beach in Norfolk, Virginia, at sunset, he asked someone to film his reaction to seeing the world in full color for the first time, according to the YouTube video’s description.
“Needless to say, it was a pretty emotional experience,” Williams-Mele wrote.
Williams-Mele puts on the glasses and the feelings just start flowing. You can observe him tearing up and having trouble finding the words to describe what he’s seeing, except for a couple of choice curse words that even the most prudish person can forgive him for uttering in such an emotional moment.
The corrective lenses that let Williams-Mele see the world in color were invented by glass scientist Don McPherson, who originally created his special glasses to help surgeons differentiate between different tissues and protect their eyes from lasers. According to a New York Times profile published Saturday, McPherson discovered his ability to correct the sight of colorblind people by accident when he lent a pair to a friend at an Ultimate Frisbee tournament.
CNET writer Jeff Sparkman, who is also colorblind, wrote about what it’s like to see the world through the EnChroma special lenses in a feature published earlier this month. He noted that they don’t cure his condition. Instead, they “use filters to kind of clean up the signals that go to the cone cells in your eyes that absorb red and green.”
“Even with the glasses on, I still have some problems distinguishing among shades of purple, but just the fact that I can immediately — confidently — answer someone who asks what color something is, that’s a new sensation,” Sparkman wrote. “It’s similar to the difference someone who is nearsighted sees when putting on glasses for the first time. The whole world opens up.”
Check out Williams-Mele’s reaction to his world opening up in the embedded video.