A survey and evaluation of lantern tests of color vision

Am J Optom Physiol Opt. 1982 Apr;59(4):346-74. doi: 10.1097/00006324-198204000-00009.


This paper reports a survey of the lantern tests that have been or are used to evaluate the color vision of people who wish to enter occupations that require the ability to recognize colored signal lights reliably. The origin of each lantern is traced and the principal features of each are described. The available data concerning failure rate of normals, the failure rate of people with defective color vision, and the extent to which scores on lantern tests correlate with field trials are summarized. Despite the fact that lantern tests have been used since the turn of the century and that some lanterns have been in use for more than 30 years and some for much longer periods, the available validation data are incomplete and sometimes conflicting. However, the data do indicate that some lanterns may fail a significant proportion of normals and that there is considerable variation between lanterns in the proportion of color vision defectives that will fail. It is noted that most lanterns will pass some protanomals despite their reduced sensitivity to red light and correspondingly short visual range for red signals. The view of Cameron is supported that a more rational approach would be to made a clinical diagnosis of the type of color vision defect, to reject protanopes, deuteranopes, and protanomals and to use a lantern test only to determine which deuteranomals should be accepted.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aerospace Medicine / history
  • Color Perception Tests / instrumentation
  • Color Perception Tests / methods*
  • Color Vision Defects / diagnosis*
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Europe
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Naval Medicine / history
  • Occupations
  • Ophthalmology / history*
  • Railroads / history
  • United Kingdom
  • United States