Can magic mushrooms cure color blindness? Study says yes

A man's color blindness improved 12 hours after ingestion of magic mushrooms.
Sejal Sharma
Representative image
Magic mushrooms may cause color blindness

Anastasiia Cheprasova/iStock 

Magic mushrooms, more commonly known as ‘shrooms,' have been known to treat depression and provide relief from gripping anxiety. In fact, we reported just last month that injured athletes are turning to these psychedelic mushrooms to treat traumatic brain injuries.

And now, a new study says that these psychedelics could aid in treating color blindness. The human vision relies upon three types of cone cells – red, blue, and green. The eyes of a person with normal color vision use all three types of cone cells, which means that their vision is functioning correctly. But in some people, one type of cone cell perceives light out of alignment, resulting in color vision deficiency (CVD), also known as color blindness.

Previous studies also suggest psychedelics may improve vision

The researchers did a case study on a 35-year-old male with red-green CVD (mild deuteranomalia), which has the highest prevalence rate and is hereditary in most cases. The male subject had a history of psychedelic use, after which he had noted a considerable improvement in his vision. This led the man to test the results using the Ishihara Test, the most common color vision test. It’s a test in which the subject is asked to distinguish numbers or pathways printed in colored spots on a background of spots of a different color or colors.

Before the mushroom ingestion, the subject self-administered the Ishihara Test and scored 14. If a person scores 17 or above, they have normal vision. If they score 13 or below, then it means they have CVD. The subject took the test again 12 hours after ingestion and had a score of 15. However, 24 hours after ingestion, his score reached 18, above the cut-off of 17 required by the Ishihara Test for the classification of normal color vision. The subject’s score peaked at 19 on day eight after his mushroom experience, and approximately four months later, his score remained elevated at 18. After a year, the subject was asked by the research team to undergo the Ishihara Test again, in which he scored 16. Although it was below the threshold of normal vision, it was still higher than his score of 14 in the beginning.

The self-administration of mushrooms by the subject does raise concerns over the credibility of the data studied by the research team. However, the researchers also cited another study conducted in 2020, which suggested that psychedelics might durably improve the symptoms of CVD in some people. 

The study was published in the journal Drug Science.

Study abstract:


Recent survey data indicate that some people report long-term improvement in color vision deficiency (CVD), also known as color blindness, following use of psychedelics such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and psilocybin. However, there are no objective data reported in the medical literature quantifying the degree or duration of CVD improvement associated with psychedelic use.

Case presentation

Here we present the case of a subject with red-green CVD (mild deuteranomalia) who self-administered the Ishihara Test to quantify the degree and duration of CVD improvement following the use of 5 g of dried psilocybin mushrooms. Self-reported Ishihara Test data from the subject revealed partial improvement in CVD peaking at 8 days and persisting for at least 16 days post-psilocybin administration. This improvement may have lasted longer, though the subsequent observations are confounded by additional substance use.