Merchant Marine: Alternatives to Ishihara Vision Test?


Defects in color vision are actually not associated with visual perception at all and are generally due to a genetic condition. The most common form of color vision defects, which is about 99% prevalent in partial color blindness, is red/green color vision deficiency. Another color vision defect, blue/yellow, also presents, but is exceptional and there is no normally accessible test for it.

The color vision defect is hereditary and exists all through one’s life. It is very rare that such a defect develops as a secondary defect to another medical condition, or that a negligible degree of damage may become evident as the eye ages. Several tests for color defects have been produced, but the most common among them is the Ishihara plate test, which is applied as an initial screening test for marine engineers.

Color blindness may be limited in that is affects only some colors, or inclusive, meaning it affects all colors. Total color blindness is very uncommon. Bear in mind that those who suffer complete color blindness regularly have other grave eye troubles as well.

Photoreceptors known as cones let us understand color. These are situated in the very middle of the retina and hold three photosensitive pigments that are red, green, and blue. Thus people who are color vision defective lack or miss one or more of these colors. Those with regular color vision are denoted as trichromats. Anomalous trichromats are the ones who have a deficiency in one of the pigments, and this is the most common kind of color vision issue. A dichromat person is one who has a total absence in one cone pigment.

What is the Ishihara Test?

The Ishihara Color Test is a screening test for red-green color defects. The test comprises of a number of painted plates called Ishihara plates. These plates include a ring of dots which appear randomly in color and size. Inside the pattern are dots which outline a number noticeable to those with normal vision, but which cannot be detected by those who have defective color vision.

The Ishihara plate test comprises either 24 or 38 color plates. It is the most extensively applied screening test for red-green vision defects and has been proven to be the most competent test. A very common sign of protan and deutan flaws (those involving the absence or deficiency of one photo-pigment) is exposed in this test, but it is not, as such, an analytical test. The examiner gives only around four seconds to recognize the color after which he moves on to the next plate. Unjustified uncertainty can be an indication of minor color deficiency.

Four different types of plates exist in the Ishihara test. They are as follows:

  • Vanishing design is noticeable only by people who are free from color vision deficiency and nothing is visible to those with color vision defects.
  • Transformation design is a test in which color blind people see different signs and people with good color vision see different signs.
  • Hidden digit design helps only those with colorblindness to spot the sign and those with faultless color vision will not be able to see it.
  • Classification design is applied to distinguish between red-and green-blind persons.

The initial plates accompanied by all the Transformation and Vanishing plates of the Ishihara test have to be used for color vision testing. The number of Transformation and Vanishing plates in the 38 plate ishihara test is 16 and the number of plates is 12 in the 24 plate test. Those with 6 errors on the 38 plate screening and 5 errors on the 24 plate check are diagnosed as having color vision defects. The person is reviewed if greater than three and less than 6 errors are made in the 38 plate and greater than two and less than 5 in the 24 plate trial. More than 3 errors on re-examination in the 38 plate test is a failure and more than 2 on the 24 plate test is a failure.

Want to take an online test? You can take a partial, or introductory, Ishihara color vision test here.

Color Vision Test

Color Vision Test

Alternative Color Blindness Tests – The Holmes-Wright Lantern (UK)

Color vision lanterns are professional tests which make use of color naming. Several countries have formulated lanterns to accomplish national color vision prerequisites for shipping services and the arm forces. Some lanterns show single colors and others display colors in pairs. The intention is to find out if signal lights can be recognized appropriately. The Holmes-Wright lantern Type A has pairs of color detached vertically, while the Type B lantern contains color pairs split up horizontally.

Both lanterns consists of two reds, two greens, and white and include x and y hue co-ordinates in the globally agreed-upon stipulations for signal lights. Colors are revealed in nine pairs constituting all the probable color combinations. The lanterns are looked at from 6 meters, which is equal to about 20 ft.

The Holmes-Wright Type B lantern is utilized by the British Marine and Coastguard Agency to pick personnel for the Merchant Marine service. The normal test utilizes the Ishihara plates, while the Holmes-Wright Type B lantern is merely prearranged on request. The test is executed in total darkness after a minimum of eight minutes of dark adjustment. The colors are exhibited one by one at a big opening, as an introduction, and the test is stopped if the colors are recognized wrongly. The matched colors constitute ship’s seafaring light at two miles when looked at 6 meters. Three runs of nine color pairs are presented. A solitary error ensues in failure of the test.

The Farnsworth Lantern Test (USA)

The Farnsworth lantern (FALANT) is the normal test utilized by the US Navy and other US armed services in coastal areas. The test arrangements vary in a number of respects when compared to the Holmes-Wright lantern test. Most significantly, the lantern shows picked out isochromatic colors with the angular delimits of the colors being much bigger. The test is executed in an ordinarily lit room at a test length of 8 feet. The pass/fail in the test is also decided by a mistake score.

A solitary presenting of the nine color pairs is advocated for preliminary appraisal, and the succession is only repeated a second and third time if errors are committed. The error mark is the mean number of errors on the second and third runs. If a person scores a point of 1.5 that is 3 errors on 2 runs then it means that he/she has failed in the test. When a single error in naming one of both colors in the pair is committed then it is counted as a sole error.

Arrangement tests

Arrangement tests are also established, on the possibility of co-punctual degrees which is otherwise in disparity to the fixed pseudoisochromatic plates. Under the pseudoisochromatic plates an individual has to distinguish a path or number. This test is dynamic. You can try your vision test for color arrangement here.

Conclusion and References

In more or less every job like driving, maritime navigation, flying, police, photography, tailoring, medicine, and painting, color visualization is indispensable for efficient implementation. Better agreement on how we comprehend color and light can assist us in appreciating different conditions of visual deficiency where color sensitivity is determined.

Ishihara’s test is regarded to be a gold standard for the quick recognition of red-green inadequacies. This is a selection test, in which normal subjects may occasionally fail and individuals who have mild deuteranopia may pass.

The test does not cover for blue-yellow tritan flaws and is undesirable for testing developed defects. This test can only detect the most usual red-green color vision deficiencies and that too with only restricted accuracy. A minor type of red-green deficiency happens when either the red or green tender photo pigment in the retina has a changed response to color. This altered response ensues in a cut-down bias between the colors red and green, and this was the reason that different alternative tests have been offered and used.


Archimedes’ Laboratory – Ishihara Color Blindness Test

Health and Safety ExecutiveColor vision examination

Lantern testing