I have always wanted to be a pilot but I am red/green color deficient. I passed all other physicals and can easily tell the difference between red and green. I only discovered I had a deficiency after I failed the Ishihara Plates Test (the one with circles of dots with numbers). So I opted for Military Police instead of flight school. However, now color vision contact lenses and glasses are available with a 100% success rate after testing with the Ishihara Plates Test. Does this open any new doors for color deficient applicants in flight schools? I can't find anyone that has answers. Thank you.

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    $\begingroup$ We have a retired 747 captain who is color-blind around! Being able to distinguish the color light signals seems to be enough (for civilian career; military is probably out of question). $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Sep 20, 2016 at 21:28
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    $\begingroup$ @JanHudec -- yeah -- for civil aviation, it's simply enough that you be able to work with/around your color vision deficiencies in practice (the medical exams include sets of practical tests, basically, for this). $\endgroup$ Sep 20, 2016 at 22:22
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    $\begingroup$ My brother and several pilots I have known were color blind commercial pilots. In my brothers case, he received a "demonstrated ability" waiver. In other words, he had flown to the point of receiving his PPL and not had any accidents. That served as proof he was a safe pilot. I flunked my eye examination once 40years ago and also got a "demonstrated ability" waiver - I had 500hrs then. I have never had eye problems since then so I don't know what happened. $\endgroup$
    – jwzumwalt
    Jan 22, 2018 at 3:56

1 Answer 1


According to FAA guide for Aviation Medical Examiners:

F. Color Vision Correcting Lens (e.g. X-Chrom)

Such lenses are unacceptable to the FAA as a means for correcting a pilot's color vision deficiencies.

However, you have the option of taking other tests for color vision. It would be better to talk with your physician or the medical examiner about this.

  • $\begingroup$ Just curious, what are the significant differences between these tests for color vision? $\endgroup$
    – Cody P
    Sep 20, 2016 at 15:48
  • $\begingroup$ The standard for color vision testing is the Ishihara Plates Test. There are other similar test to the Ishihara consisting of more or less Plates. Other test like the Farnsworth Lantern test are available as well but are not as readily accepted depending on the admissions requirements. I have taken both the Farnsworth lantern is basically choosing between red and green which was easy. The Plates Test mixes Dots and several shades making it harder for me personally. $\endgroup$ Sep 20, 2016 at 16:58
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    $\begingroup$ The standard Ishihara Plates Test is almost always administered incorrectly! The room where you take the test is almost always lit by flourescent lighting, which gives off a blue-ish light that makes a person near the edge of color blindness fail. Most MDs will let you take the Ishihara test outside in bright sunlight. Try it! $\endgroup$ Sep 21, 2016 at 21:44

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