Firefighter Recruitment - Eyesight Requirements

If you have any doubts regarding your eyesight we suggest that you book an appointment with your optician and take the information below to ask his/her opinion:

Colour Blindness

Normal colour vision or slightly red/green colour vision are acceptable. If a candidate does not pass the Ishihara test performed by the Optician, then two further tests can be undertaken by Occupational Health to determine the severity and type of colour vision deficiency.

The vision standards for eyesight are:

Visual Acuity

  • Glasses and/or contact lenses are permitted to be worn whilst on duty providing the following conditions are complied with.
  • Contact lenses
    - Optician needs to confirm visual acuity with and without lenses
    - Optician needs to confirm date lenses received
    - Optician needs to confirm lenses are soft contact lenses and the individual has satisfactorily demonstrated they are capable of wearing those lenses continually for up to 16 hours without deterioration of their vision.
  • Corrected visual acuity should be 6/9 binocularly, and a minimum of 6/12 in the worse eye
  • The minimum uncorrected vision for recruits should be 6/18 in the better eye and 6/24 in the worse eye for both full time and retained firefighters
  • An upper hypermetropic limit of +3.00
  • Testing for myopic corrections is no longer required
  • VA testing protocols must be better defined (e.g. for Snellen, distances, ambient lighting and use)
  • Vision must be binocular
  • Be able to read N12 at 30cm unaided with both eyes open (applicants aged 25 and over)
  • Be able to read N6 at 30cm unaided with both eyes open (applicants under 25 years of age)

Visual Fields

  • Normal binocular field of vision is required.

Eye Disease

  • Have no history of night blindness or any ocular disease that is likely to progress and result in future failure of the visual standards for firefighters.

  • Individuals with keratoconus are unlikely to be fit for firefighting duties.

  • Compound astigmatism assess for capability, history of headaches and eyestrain.

Refractive Surgery

  • Successful Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK), laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK), Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis (LASEK) and EpiLASIK treatments should be allowable if satisfy post operative visual tests.

  • RK (radial Keratotomy) and astigmatic ketatotomy are NOT suitable due increased risk of rupture and fluctuation in vision.

  • Intraocular Refractive Surgery - Used for high myopes therefore still risk of complications.

  • Wavefront Guided Laser Refractive Surgery - since a Wavefront treatment aims to reduce aberrations, in theory it should produce better outcomes for night vision and vision in difficult low lighting levels or reduced contrast as might be encountered in a smoke-filled room; this technology could therefore have great relevance for firefighters - research is still underway to aid our understanding of this relatively new technology.

Assessment after Refractive Surgery by an Optician - an examination to consider the suitability of a refractive surgery patient for operational firefighting should include:

  • A slit lamp examination to confirm that the eye has returned to normal and that there is no significant loss of corneal transparency over the pupil area.

  • Refraction, topographic examination and pachymetry to screen for keratectasia.

Candidates should have their visual performance assessed using a technique sensitive to the presence of scattered light and aberrations. Candidates should not be considered until at least 12 months post-surgery and when all medication has ceased.

These are the current requirements and may be liable to change.