Tennessee Installs Colorblindness-Correcting Viewfinders in the Smoky Mountains

"It's like seeing the difference between here and heaven."

Winona Dimeo-Ediger
On Monday, December 4, 2017 - 11:58
Colorblindless viewfinders in the Smoky Mountains

The Smoky Mountain vistas in Tennessee offer some of the most stunning natural scenery in the world, and every fall, thousands of people travel from all over the world to take in the rainbow of changing leaves. Unfortunately for visitors with protanopia or protanomaly — red-green colorblindness — the view wasn't nearly as majestic. 

Until now.

This fall, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development installed colorblind-less viewfinders at three locations in East Tennessee: Ober Gatlinburg, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, and an Interstate 26 overlook near Erwin. The viewfinders are equipped with specially designed lenses that correct red-green colorblindness, allowing viewers to see the full spectrum of colorful leaves where they once saw only shades of browns and muted greens. 

The best part? Their reactions to seeing the Smoky Mountains in color for the first time were captured on video. It's beautiful and emotional and we highly recommend you grab a tissue before pushing play.

One visitor described seeing the mountains in color as seeing "the difference between here and heaven."

Tennessee plans to install more of the colorblind-less viewfinders in other scenic areas so more people can experience the splendor of the state — in every color of the rainbow. 


Winona Dimeo-Ediger is the editor in chief of Livability.com. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Country Living, National Geographic and NPR.