Rylan Hair sees Clemson’s true colors – finally

Rylan Hair, 9, and his mom Tracy

BLYTHEWOOD – A Round Top Elementary School fourth grader had an extraordinary moment recently while tailgating during Clemson’s win over Wofford.

Rylan Hair, 9, has never been able to distinguish some colors. As a child, when he would shoot red arrows from his nerf gun and they landed on green grass, his parents noticed that he couldn’t find them because he wasn’t distinguishing red and green. While he could distinguish yellow, other colors were distorted.

“He was about three when we finally realized that he might be colorblind,” Trey Hair said of his son. “Over time, we realized that he sees some colors, but can’t distinguish others. He specifically has trouble with green and red and colors like purple, orange or pink that have red in them. They appear as muddy greens and other colors.”

An opthomologist confirmed that Rylan is color-blind, but has excellent vision otherwise.

“Rylan is protan color blind,” Trey Hair said of his son’s condition. “That is a type of red-green color blindness in which the red cones do not detect enough red. So he has trouble distinguishing some bright colors like orange and purple.”

That hit home for the Hair family, all of whom are Clemson fans.

After years seeing Rylan struggle with colors, Hair and his wife Tracy learned about a kind of eye glasses – Enchroma – that might help Rylan see true colors for the first time. While the glasses cost upwards of $300, they are not covered by insurance since color-blindness is not classified as a handicap. The glasses come in both sunglass style and indoor style. Hair chose the sunglasses. He was told that the glasses don’t work for everyone with the condition, but he and his wife were ready to challenge the odds.

“I had them for a few weeks, waiting for a special time to give them to Rylan so he would see a lot of color when he put them on,” Hair said.

That time was the Clemson Tiger’s Military Appreciation Day game on Nov. 2, when the Tigers were wearing full purple uniforms.

While the family was tailgating with friends, Hair pulled out the glasses and presented them to Rylan.

Rylan’s sister, Ellie, 15, videoed the emotional moments when her brother slipped on the Enchroma sunglasses and, for the first time, saw brilliant colors everywhere, including true bright purple and orange.

 “The glasses worked,” Hair said. “It literally took his (and our) breath away. After a few moments of disbelief, his lips formed a silent, ‘O my God.’ After a few minutes of disbelief, he dropped his head in his hands and cried.”

As Hair hugged his son, Rylan whispered, “Thank you.”

“It was a great day, very emotional,” Hair said, “not only for Rylan, but for our whole family.”

 “What a miraculous experience. We’re so excited for this new world he is experiencing. We’re so happy for him,” Hair said.