Guys who play music together often become closer than brothers, and needless to say, they’d do anything to make life better for one of their brethren. Country music fans got to see that special bond in action during a recent BoomTown Saints concert in Nashville when Chris Ramos presented fellow frontman Ben Chism with a special pair of EnChroma glasses for people who are color-blind that enabled him to see vibrant hues for the first time ever.
“It was so emotional that I messed up the lyrics of a song,” Ben recalls of trying to perform after he was presented with the glasses. “I missed a couple of lines on the song ‘American Dream’ because I was getting choked up. Having my family there, especially my mom, and having all these people do so much for me, it meant the world.”
The audience at Nashville’s 3rd & Lindsley nightclub was populated with friends, family and fans who had come to see BoomTown Saints’ debut music from their new self-titled EP. Ben had no idea what was about to happen when his wife came on stage with Chris and his wife to surprise him with the glasses.
“We kept it under wraps,” Chris tells Woman’s World. “I don’t think Ben knew anything until it actually happened — it was an incredible moment.”
Growing up color-blind
Ben, who grew up in Southaven, Mississippi, didn’t realize he was color-blind until high school. “Our high school colors were purple and gold and I showed up to our first baseball game wearing a blue shirt, blue belt and blue socks,” Ben recalls. “My coach looked at me and said, ‘Ben, I know you are not dumb. Are you color-blind?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I might be.’”
Indeed, Ben was, and finding out he was color-blind was almost a relief because he understood things that had been a mystery for years. “I was like, Okay this makes sense because in like kindergarten and first grade they were like, ‘Well take this color and do this and this,’ and I just started coloring and everybody was like, ‘What’s wrong with this kid?’ Now finally some things made sense.”
Diagnosing Ben’s type of color-blindness
When Chris found out Ben was color-blind, he set out to help his friend. The first step was determining what type of color-blindness Ben suffered from. Ben took a test online and found out he has deuteranomaly, which is the most common type of red-green color vision deficiency. “Some people can only see black and white,” Ben shares. “Mine was a color difference problem. Red and green would mix up on me really bad and blue, purple, orange and yellow. Those colors that were mixed, I could not tell what they were at all.”
While doing the research, Chris also learned that 1 in 12 men are color blind. “I had no idea,” Chris says. “I think it’s 1 in 80 women that are color-blind, so it’s a lot more people than you might think. There were probably a lot of people that night at the show that are color-blind and need glasses and they may not even know it.”
EnChroma has a test you can take, and once you find out what type of color-blindness you are, says Chris, then you order that type of glasses for color-blind type.
How glasses for color-blind people work
Ben admits that being able to see colors correctly has been an emotional experience. “Initially, it was a little different, but it wasn’t until I got home and had been wearing the glasses for a little while that I could really tell a big difference,” he admits. “Some people are going to see it instantly. Some people it will take up to two weeks. It took me about three hours.”
Glasses for color-blind people with deuteranomoly are made with minerals that filter out some of the wavelengths between green and red. A portion of the light rays coming through the lenses are blocked, reducing the overlap of the red and green light wavelengths. This allows the brain to receive a clearer signal to help distinguish between the two colors. While they can be expensive and are not covered by most insurances, you can buy glasses for color-blind types with an FSA account.
But Ben insists they are worth it. “We have a plant — it’s my favorite house plant — and up until then I could only see green,” he says. “I couldn’t really see it, but when I put the glasses on, I walked into the kitchen, and I looked at it and I could see the hot pink stripes in that plant.”
Ben is thankful for the work EnChroma and similar companies are doing because color-blindness is genetic so there’s a good chance other family members will inherit the condition. “Most people don’t know it’s genetic,” he says. “My daughter will carry the color-blindness gene in her DNA, so if she has a son, he has a 50/50 chance of getting color-blindness, so it’s just one of those things that genetically is never going to get out of the blood line unfortunately.”
Experiencing a whole new world
Surprising Ben with the glasses for color-blindness isn’t the only way Chris changed his life. He also kept him from giving up on his musical dreams. Ben moved to Nashville and struggled for several years as a solo artist and was almost about to give up on a music career when he met Chris at the gym. The two men struck up a friendship and Ben recruited Chis to play bass for one of his shows.
After successful performances, Chris and Ben decided to form a duo and BoomTown Saints was born. The duo released their self-titled debut EP in June and the new high-energy single, “Blacktop Don’t,” is climbing the charts. The band has been busy touring, and thanks to Chris’ gift, Ben is seeing the true colors in the world.
Ben especially enjoyed his new glasses when the duo was playing shows in Alaska recently and took a day off to go fishing. “Standing at the foot of the mountain fly fishing, catching that salmon and looking back seeing all the beautiful colors that Alaska has to offer, that is life-changing,” Ben says.
“I’ll always be extremely and deeply grateful to Chris, his wife and my wife for going through this to help me see color because there’s just so much that I’ve missed my entire life by not being able to truly see things,” says Ben. “Chris knows when I went home and saw that plant the first time, I cried. I couldn’t help it. He changed my life and I’ll be forever grateful for it.”
The video of that life-changing moment
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Deborah Evans Price believes everyone has a story to tell and, as a journalist, she considers it a privilege to share those stories with the world. Deborah contributes to Billboard, CMA Close Up, Jesus Calling, First for Women, Woman’s World and Country Top 40 with Fitz, among other media outlets. Author of the CMA Awards Vault and Country Faith, Deborah is the 2013 winner of the Country Music Association’s Media Achievement Award and the 2022 recipient of the Cindy Walker Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Western Artists. Deborah lives on a hill outside Nashville with her husband, Gary, son Trey and cat Toby.