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Colour vision requirements in visually demanding occupations

Barbur, J. L. & Rodriguez-Carmona, M. (2017). Colour vision requirements in visually demanding occupations. British Medical Bulletin, doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldx007


Normal trichromatic colour vision (CV) is often required as a condition for employment in visually demanding occupations. If this requirement could be enforced using current, colour assessment tests, a significant percentage of subjects with anomalous, congenital trichromacy who can perform the suprathreshold, colour-related tasks encountered in many occupations with the same accuracy as normal trichromats would fail. These applicants would therefore be discriminated against unfairly. One solution to this problem is to produce minimum, justifiable CV requirements that are specific to each occupation. This has been done successfully for commercial aviation (i.e. the flight crew) and for Transport for London train drivers. An alternative approach is to make use of new findings and the statistical outcomes of past practices to produce graded, justifiable CV categories that can be enforced. To achieve this aim, we analysed colour assessment outcomes and quantified severity of CV loss in 1363 subjects. The severity of CV loss was measured in each subject and statistical, pass/fail outcomes established for each of the most commonly used, conventional colour assessment tests and protocols. This evidence and new findings that relate severity of loss to the effective use of colour signals in a number of tasks provide the basis for a new colour grading system based on six categories. A single colour assessment test is needed to establish the applicant's CV category which can range from 'supernormal', for the most stringent, colour-demanding tasks, to 'severe colour deficiency', when red/green CV is either absent or extremely weak.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in British Medical Bulletin following peer review. The version of record: Barbur, J. L. & Rodriguez-Carmona, M. (2017). Colour vision requirements in visually demanding occupations, is available online at:
Publisher Keywords: colour vision, congenital colour deficiency, acquired colour deficiency, Ishihara plates test, Rayleigh match, CAD test
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Optometry & Visual Sciences
Text - Accepted Version
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