Light sources with three spectral bands in specific spectral positions are known to have high-color-discrimination capability. W. A. Thornton hypothesized that they may also enhance color discrimination for color-deficient observers. This hypothesis was tested here by comparing the Rösch–MacAdam color volume for color-deficient observers rendered by three of these singular spectra, two reported previously and one derived in this paper by maximization of the Rösch–MacAdam color solid. It was found that all illuminants tested enhance discriminability for deuteranomalous observers, but their impact on other congenital deficiencies was variable. The best illuminant was the one derived here, as it was clearly advantageous for the two red–green anomalies and for tritanopes and almost neutral for red–green dichromats. We conclude that three-band spectra with high-color-discrimination capability for normal observers do not necessarily produce comparable enhancements for color-deficient observers, but suitable spectral optimization clearly enhances the vision of the color deficient.
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