Color Vision Testing

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
1) I don't understand your question. You may retake the color vision test utilizing any of the approved tests. If you pass one of these, send the results to the FAA and they will send you a medical without the color vision restriction.
2) I doubt an AME will accept an outside set of plates, they do not know the authenticity of the plates and whether or not they have been altered. I certainly would not accept them.
3) Yes, if they document the type of test and the number of errors on the test. The FAA has specific guidelines for each test.


New Member
Dr. Forred, just wanted to clarify my 1st question as I ran across something else on the "always trustworthy web."

First way: Accepted Color Blindness Tests
Any of the following listed tests can be taken to examine your color vision. If you fail one of them there is always the possibility to take another test of the list. I think this is a good rule as you can always have a bad day or be to nervous. So make sure that you pass in the second round. And it is important to know, that no other color blindness tests are allowed!

So if I've already failed the Ishihara and the Falant can I retake an office based test "Section A" to get the restriction removed or do I have to move onto the OCVT?


New Member
I bought the 14 plate edition Ishihara to practice and actually passed myself. So I called an eye care center and asked them if I could bring the test in and they said "no." Understandably. It was worth a shot. But she also said that I would need to pass other color test to prove that I was not color blind. I told them that I only needed to pass the FAA approved test and she said "No. I don't feel comfortable giving you one test." So I didn't go there.

I then called an AME office and informed the lady that I wanted to get my color restriction removed and was inquiring as to what test they provided. She said, "you have to go the FAA office to get the restriction removed." I kindly informed her that I just needed to get retested to get it removed and she said that I was wrong. She said that she didn't have the FALANT and that I had to go to the FAA office to take that test. Of course that's not correct because I've already failed it at an AME's office.

I'm getting frustrated with how little these places know about the process. Both of them advised me that they were very familiar with FAA testing.


Well-Known Member,Vol.5,Ch8,Sec1

A. General Process. Special medical flight tests, which may lead to the issuance of medical certificates under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 67, § 67.401, are frequently required for applicants who do not meet certain medical standards. Such testing is conducted solely by aviation safety inspectors (ASI) and may be conducted only after issuance of a letter of authorization (LOA) (see Figure 5‑153). The LOA for an airman who has requested a special medical test must be issued by the Federal Air Surgeon; the Manager, Aerospace Medical Certification Division (AAM‑300); or by a Regional Flight Surgeon. Operating limitations on pilot certificates issued to pilots with physical deficiencies may be added or removed as a result of the special medical flight test findings.


Well-Known Member
I have to renew my first class medical by the end of this month. In the past I have taken the dvorine and the farnsworth lantern because I've had trouble with the ishihara. I got in touch with an optometrist in my area who had a farnsworth lantern. I made an appointment and go in and it turns out it's the farnsworth lantern D-15, no good. Turns out no one in my area has either of the FAA approved tests I have passed many times in the past. So I give the ishihara plates (2000 edition 14 plates) a shot and passed, making only 4 errors, of the six allowed in plates 1-11. She wrote a formal letter to take with me to my next medical stating the errors and test given. I called around to the AME's in my area to make sure that would be acceptable to bring in so I wouldn't have to retake the same test with them, as I'm sure you understand this makes me a little nervous as my livelihood depends on it. Of the two I have talked to so far one has said that it's not good, even though it's an FAA approved test and is different than the one he offers. The second said I could bring in the paperwork so he could look at it but that he would still have to submit his findings to the FAA, he also offers a different test than the ishihara. I have taken neither of the tests offered so I would like to avoid them if possible.

Are the results from the optometrist valid for FAA purposes or not? Also, is there anyway to prove to the AME that they are. If absolute need be I can get to an AME with a dvorine or farnsworth lantern but it is a huge hassle given my location.

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
Yes, if they are documented. There is no need to submit these to the FAA. You need to find an AME who does at least 25 medicals a month so they understand the FAA rules.

We have the Farnsworth as well as the Dvorine if they will not play ball with you.


Well-Known Member
Yes, if they are documented. There is no need to submit these to the FAA. You need to find an AME who does at least 25 medicals a month so they understand the FAA rules.

We have the Farnsworth as well as the Dvorine if they will not play ball with you.
Is there a specific way they must be documented? I received a formal letter from the Eye Doctor on letter head paper stating her name and title, her place of employment, date, test performed, number of errors in first 11 plates, her diagnosis, and her signature and contact information at the bottom so the AME can contact her with any questions. Does it have to be filled out on The FAA Form 8500-7?

Would your office accept the results from my Eye Doctor on the official eye clinic letter head paper?

Thanks for your help.


Well-Known Member
I am a recently retired navy pilot who took nothing but the Falant for 20 years....I can't pass the Ishahara plates. When I go for my Class 1, I bring my last few navy flight physicals that show my 9/9 passing score and the doc signs off based on that.


New Member
I just took my Operational Color Vision Test, and had no issues with the practical portion. However, I missed one of the 12 light gun signals, and the examiner said my case will be reviewed by a Medical Examiner assigned to my case. What should I expect?

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
If you miss ANY of the targets, you fail. You can retake it at night and have a restirction NOT VALID FOR FLIGHT DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS BY COLOR SIGNAL CONTROL


Well-Known Member
Before starting the test, turn off any screen color filters and remove any color filtering eyewear. The Enchroma color vision test is for informational purposes only. Results may vary depending on lighting conditions and your device’s display settings. For a qualified medical diagnosis, consult your eye care professional.

Table Two

Well-Known Member
I have a lot of people ask me for info about my OCVT/MFT experience, and I figured I would just compile it here.

I went through this quite a while ago, so I don't know if anything has changed from the FAA. If you already have the test scheduled at a FSDO, give them a call to go over what will happen. The FAA is there to help, right? haha

Table Two

You have to fail the color vision test to have the option of taking the OCVT/MFT. If your AME keeps passing you, its another 364 days you don't have to worry about failing a color vision test. My advice is to keep passing your 1st class medical until you don't haha. I passed my 1st class medical when I first started back in 1999, took a few more medicals over the years before getting on at a regional with the same AME with no issues, then went to a new one. He said “you’re not great at the color vision test, but you pass”, three more 1st classes, one new AME, same comment. “you’re not good, but you pass” Cool.

Then I went to a new guy, and failed. I knew it was coming eventually, so I already new what the OCVT/MFT required and I had “studied” as much as I could. It took some time and a lot of back and forth to get someone from the FSDO and someone to rent a plane from at the same airport in a short amount of time.

As far as medical history, I don't think anybody cares about the past, as long as you can pass and maintain a 1st class medical today. I have a friend who had a heart attack and was out on medical for half a year. He got his medical back, upgraded with me, and now flies for one of the big three. So if you failed it in the past but got it back, I don't think it will ever be an issue. Feel free to call your regional flight surgeon, call your local FSDO or search the FAA website for who is nearest to you. You could even call anonymous to ask if you're worried. During job interviews they are not allowed to ask about your medical history.

There are color vision plates online you can practice with. Study the colors of a sectional chart and in the cockpit with a friend, have them quiz you… thats the test the FAA gives you. “what color is that”, thats it. Have the tower give you a light gun signal demo at every airport you go to haha, sounds dumb but take the practice when you can get it.

I had to take the 1st class medical exam and FAIL the color vision portion before they would refer me to someone to take the OCVT-MFT. That test took roughly 1 hour total with about 30 minutes of flying in a Cessna. Paid for plane rental, but test with FAA was free.

I went in for a normal 1st class medical not knowing I was color deficient. He failed my color vision (Ishihara plate) test portion. I retained a 1st class medical, but under limitations it said "Not valid for night flight or light gun signals". Half the flying I do as an airline pilot is at night. I think I had to call the local FAA medical office, pick a FSDO to take the test at and schedule it. Since I fly jets I had to get checked out in a Cessna (1 hour) but the flight portion of the MFT was only one lap around in the pattern.

If I remember correct, yes the OCVT/MFT was free since it was through the FSDO. I had to rent a Cessna on my own for the MFT

The one thing to remember is...

YOU ONLY GET ONE CHANCE AT THIS TEST. If you fail the LIGHT GUN SIGNALS portion of it, you have a permanent limitation of NO NIGHT FLYING. Make sure to talk to your local FAA or FSDO before taking the test.

I never in 12 years had an issue flying with a color vision deficiency. I now have a permanent letter in my FAA file that allows me to fly with color vision deficiency, and I can never be failed on my annual 1st class medicals on the Ishihara plates or any other color vision test.

Follow the links in this thread for a good writeup by Mongoose something of the OCVT and MFT

We looked at a sectional and he pointed at any text or color on the map. Color of land, what color is that lake shaped object (spoiler: its blue!), what color is that text. If you're worried, look at a sectional with a friend to quiz you on any color on the map.

In the plane he pointed at anything on the instrument panel or outside the aircraft. "what color is that?" again, go with a friend and have him quiz you.

In the air, what color are those trees, what color are those water tanks, what colors do you see on the PAPI. I did it in the middle of winter in New England so all my answers were "white!"

I think the only test you cannot fail is the tower light gun test. Go to a towered airport and ask for a light gun display. you need to nail 6 at 1000' and 6 at 1500' or somehting like that. all of the requirements are on the FAA website, I can dig it up if you cant find it.

He made sure to tell me that it was not a test of my flying skill, and that you can do it with an instructor with the FAA in the back seat, I think. Call your local FSDO and ask questions. The FAA is here to help you be a pilot, they are not out to get you.

let me know if you have any specific questions, it was stressful for me too since I fly for a regional, but had to do the test in a C172 that I havent flown in 5 years. It ended up being easy and kinda fun. but one hell of a weight off my shoulders when i was done. now i have a permanent waiver and never have to worry about it again for the rest of my career/life!

"So are you saying that the light gun signals are the only test I have to get 100% right? I am just so confused about what to expect on the MFT haha, I claim that I am not color deficient, I just don't know the names of all the colors out there haha. I do not know or care if it is "Jungle green" or "creamy eggshell white" (slight exaggeration), I am just wondering how much to expect from the examiner, will he be fair? I know that will vary by the person, but I just want to prepare all I can! "

reference the bottom of page starting at NOTE:

You can find light gun videos on youtube, but yes 100% correct on that. If you can see colors on the map and a/c instruments you shouldn't have a problem. Hell, if you can see stoplights red and green you should be fine.

Just say dark, standard or light green, don't need to go to Home Depot to study color names. They are not doctors, but they know when red is red and when green is not white.

When you schedule this with the FSDO, just ask the examiner what to expect. It took me about a month to schedule it out.

He was super cool and was happy to get out of the office. As long as you dont do anything unsafe you will be fine on the flight portion. I couldnt land a 172 for after flying a jet, but he didn't care.

I remember going to an eye doctor after I failed the medical, and he said my deficiency was mild hence the "just passing" results all those years. I guess I just lucked out on the Ishiara plates up until then. I never had an AME who had a Farnsworth Lantern so I have no experience with that. I can tell you that many AME's are old and getting close to retirement, so you cannot count on going to one AME the rest of your career that will always pass you. I knew that I would fail one day, so I studied up on the OCVT/MFT just like you are.

Sadly, it is a pass/fail test with permanent consequences. Practice at a towered airport with the light gun signals. If they aren't busy they would be happy to flash the lights at you. Do it with your instructor so he can "grade" you. Take look at different sectionals from around the country to see different color representations (mountains, ocean, flatland) A California sectional cover almost everything you could find on a sectional. Have your CFI quiz you on colors just as much as how to do turns around a point when you go flying.