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Impact of congenital colour vision defects on occupation
  1. P Cumberland,
  2. J S Rahi,
  3. C S Peckham
  1. Institute of Child Health, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr J S Rahi
    Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EH, UK;


Aims: To investigate whether there is an association between congenital colour vision defects (CVD) and occupational choice and employment history, in order to inform the debate about the value of universal childhood screening for these disorders.

Methods: Participants were 6422 males and 6112 females from the 1958 British birth cohort, followed from birth to 33 years, whose colour vision was assessed (Ishihara test) at 11 years.

Results: A total of 431 males (6.7%) had CVD. Men with CVD had pursued some careers for which normal colour vision is currently regarded as essential; for example, eight men (3.1%) with CVD were in the police, armed forces, or fire-fighting service at 33 years compared to 141 men (3.8%) with normal colour vision. They were, however, under-represented compared to those with normal colour vision, in other occupations; for example, no men with CVD were employed in electrical and electronic engineering at 33 years compared to 15 men (0.4%) with normal colour vision.

Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest there is little to be gained by continuing with existing school screening programmes for CVD, whose primary purpose is to advise affected children against certain careers. Other ways of informing young people about potential occupational difficulties and pathways for referral for specialist assessment are likely to be more useful.

  • colour vision
  • screening
  • occupation
  • employment

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