This paper reviews the literature on the effects of luminance and chromatic contrast on reading and object recognition in low vision. The general consensus is that whereas luminance contrast can enhance reading and object recognition for some low vision subjects, chromatic contrast does not aid low vision reading but may be useful in low vision object recognition. Although providing useful theoretical results, the experimental designs have so far been remote from the conditions that low vision patients may experience in the home and work environment. Suggestions are made for an ‘ideal’ experimental design and details of current research, using conditions more likely to be experienced by low vision subjects in everyday life, are given. This research makes use of a recently developed instrument, the Intuitive Colorimeter®.