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Dr. Rick
Dr. Rick, Board Certified MD
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Experience:  Ophthalmology since 1994 with Retina sub-specialty interest
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Why do pre-employment color vision tests (Ishihara plates)

Resolved Question:

Why do pre-employment color vision tests (Ishihara plates) use such similar color hues even for jobs where the colors are never that similar? In jobs I've worked (building maintenance, warehouse, manufacturing), the colors in use are very dissimilar: i.e. bright red versus bright green lights or solid black wires versus solid green wires versus solid white wires.

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Eye
Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 1 year ago.

Dr. Rick :

Hi. My name isXXXXX and I have two decades of ophthalmology experience. I'm online and happy to answer your question today.

Dr. Rick :

They are testing for red/green color deficiency, which occurs in 8% of the male population.

Dr. Rick :

The colors on the plates have nothing to do with the colors you will be working with on the job but, rather, they are designed so that men with this condition will give different answers to the plates then people with normal vision will give.

Dr. Rick :

A red/green color deficient person would have a hard time telling a bright red verses bright green light apart....

Dr. Rick :

Does this make sense to you?

Dr. Rick :

I hope this information was helpful for you. But I do work for tips so I want to make sure you are happy with me before rating me. If you have another question on this or a related issue feel free to fire away. You may also receive an email survey after our chat, if you don’t feel that I have earned a “10” rating in all areas, please let me know what I can do to meet your expectations.

Thanks in advance,

Dr. Rick MD FACS

Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 1 year ago.
Dr. Rick says:
4:34 PM
Hi. My name isXXXXX and I have two decades of ophthalmology experience. I'm online and happy to answer your question today.
4:35 PM
They are testing for red/green color deficiency, which occurs in 8% of the male population.
4:36 PM
The colors on the plates have nothing to do with the colors you will be working with on the job but, rather, they are designed so that men with this condition will give different answers to the plates then people with normal vision will give.
4:37 PM
A red/green color deficient person would have a hard time telling a bright red verses bright green light apart....
4:37 PM
Does this make sense to you?
4:37 PM
I hope this information was helpful for you. But I do work for tips so I want to make sure you are happy with me before rating me. If you have another question on this or a related issue feel free to fire away. You may also receive an email survey after our chat, if you don’t feel that I have earned a “10” rating in all areas, please let me know what I can do to meet your expectations.

Thanks in advance,

Dr. Rick MD FACS
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

You wrote: "A red/green color deficient person would have a hard time telling a bright red verses bright green light apart"

 

Why not then have a test that just asks people to identify a bright red light, green light, blue light, yellow light, etc.? I realize that you aren't the inventor of this whole industry practice, so my intent isn't to put the pressure on you. However, I feel like using such muted, similar hues in the test would unfairly discriminate against people with very slight color vision deficiency. What if a candidate's color vision deficiency is bad enough that he can't pass the Ishihara test but he can easily differentiate bright colors that are very dissimilar, such as on a traffic stoplight? In that case, is it not plausible that the doctor administering the physical, especially not being a trained optometrist or ophthalmologist, would report that the patient is color blind and thus unqualified for the job? I realize that the patient could go to an eye professional for a more detailed examination, but most employers would just move on to the next candidate. How is the candidate protected from this sort of situation?

Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 1 year ago.
That is because it has to be uniform. The plates were developed over decades of testing in order to be able to reliably screen large numbers of people for color vision problems. Once identified, there are more specific tests that can be done.

The candidate, in the situation you described, does not have any protection from this sort of action by the employer.

That being said, if a person can not pass the color vision plates they would not be able to function in a job that requires excellent color discrimination, such as a Navy fighter pilot or a telephone wire splicer...

Does this make sense to you?

It's safe for you to press the positive feedback button now if you so desire. And, never fear, even after you press that button I don't go up in a puff of smoke -- I'll still be right here to continue helping you, but, as I do work for tips, I want to make sure you are happy before rating me.

Adam,

One other thing: I notice that this is the third question you have asked on this web site. As you might not know, if you do not press the positive feedback button the expert is not compensated for assisting you. And, since this the lowest priced question you have asked, I would like to suggest that you mash the positive feedback (excellent is most fun to push) button at this point.

Dr. Rick, Board Certified MD
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 8488
Experience: Ophthalmology since 1994 with Retina sub-specialty interest
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