How Does Color Affect Eyesight?

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Updated on Jun 25, 2014




Elementary School/Middle School

Difficulty of Project



$1 or less

Safety Issues


Material Availability

Easily available from the internet.

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

At least an hour.


  • To determine which colors are more difficult to read at a distance.
  • To understand how eyesight works in regard to color.

  • An eye chart in black ink
  • An eye chart in red ink (the shade of red used when using a red marker on a white board)
  • An eye chart in blue ink (the shade used when using a blue marker on a white board)
  • An eye chart in purple ink (the shade used when using a purple marker on a white board)
  • An eye chart in orange ink (the shade used with an orange marker on a white board)
  • An eye chart in green ink (the shade used with a green marker on a white board)


Certain colors produce certain wave lengths of light.Red, for instance, produces a longer wave length than black.Do these wave lengths affect the ability of someone to read something written in that color?(Note: yellow is not included because there is not enough contrast between it and the white paper.The variable we are testing is readability based on wave length, not on contrast.Therefore, yellow is not useful.)

Research Questions
  • What color is easiest to read at a distance?
  • What color is hardest to read at a distance?
  • What color should teachers use on a white board?
Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research
  • How does the eye perceive color?
  • What are the different wave lengths of colors?
  • How does the eye perceive different wave lengths?

Experimental Procedure

  1. Gather a group of subjects willing to participate in this study.
  2. Administer an eye test in black ink.This is your control.
  3. Administer additional eye tests: a. In red ink. b. In blue ink. c. In purple ink. d. In orange ink. e. In green ink.
  4. Observe the number of errors your participants make while reading the eye chart.


“Seeing Color.”Causes of color.

Elkins, James.How To Use Your Eyes.Routledge. New York: 2000.

Nassau, Kurt.The Physics and Chemistry of Color.John Wiley and Sons.Danvers, MA: 2001.

A graduate of Brandeis University, Sharon Cooper loves anything having to do with English, History, and Creative Writing. When she is not creating science fair ideas, she is translating Chaucer, writing short stories, or reading various works of literature. To discuss literature or literary experimentation, please contact Sharon at

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