Human color vision is based fundamentally on three separate cone photopigments. Hereditary color deficiency, which affects up to 10% of males, results from an absorption shift or lack of L or M cone phototoreceptors. While hereditary S cone deficiency is rare, decreased S cone sensitivity occurs early in eye disease, underscoring the importance of quantifying S cone function. Our purpose is to describe a novel approach for quantifying human color vision based on the photopigments of normal color vision. Colored letters, visible to a single cone type, are presented in graded steps of cone contrast to determine the threshold for letter recognition. This approach quantifies normal color vision, indicates type and severity of hereditary deficiency, and reveals sensitivity decrements in various diseases.