Colour-blind? You can still become a pilot

Thousands rejected in the past could be cleared for take-off by new examination

Thousands of people prevented from becoming pilots because of their colour-blindness could get another chance to follow their childhood dreams, thanks to the development of a revolutionary eye test.

Until now, people with even minor forms of the condition – which affects one in 20 men and one in 200 women – have been unable to fly commercial aircraft because traditional tests are only able to detect that the problem exists, not its severity. But a new examination developed by scientists at City University in London can pinpoint the exact level of a person's colour-blindness and immediately indicate whether their vision meets the minimum requirements for flight safety.

Colour-blindness is caused when the eye's light-sensitive cells, known as "cones", are faulty or missing. The most common form is red-green deficiency, in which the subject may be unable to distinguish between the two colours. Most people are born with it, but it can also arise as a result of illness or medical treatment.

The new test stems from research sponsored by Britain's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the US Federal Aviation Administration, which wanted to establish a more accurate way of assessing a person's colour vision to create fairer guidelines for those hoping to become pilots. In a report, the CAA estimated that using the new method will allow more than a third of those affected by colour-blindness to become pilots.


Try the test for yourself

Seeing is believing: The new test

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