Eyesight Requirement for Seafarers

Your eyes are an important part of your body. As a seafarer, your vision must be perfect as you rely on your eyes to make sense of the vast ocean onboard. There are strict guidelines for eyesight eligibility based on which a seafarer is examined in their medical assessment. Any permanent illness or damage to your eyes is not allowed in the merchant navy. A DG Shipping-approved doctor performs the test according to The STCW Convention amended in 2010 (Manila amendments), which has made strict eyesight requirements for seafarers. 


Suppose you are an aspiring seafarer, who cannot see some colors and brightness like red, blue, or green the usual way or has trouble telling the difference between shades of the same or different colors. All of these are symptoms of color blindness which is an incurable illness. In the merchant navy, such permanent eye illnesses as color blindness are not allowed. It is recommended that if you suffer from color blindness, do not waste your time, money, and energy by appearing for a medical examination.

Color Blindness Test
Color Blindness Test

Many people refer to 6/6 as the perfect vision. This means that you can see at a distance of 6m what an average person also sees at the same distance. While 6/9 vision means that if a normal person can see something at a distance of 9m, a person with 6/9 eyesight can see it only till the distance of 6m. 

Now let’s have a look at different eyesight eligibility criteria for Merchant Navy –

  1. DECK CADET – Seafarers joining the deck side go through the hardest vision eligibility test, as their duty involves keeping a bridge watch under the supervision of the chief officer on the ship. Deck cadets must have a vision of 6/6 in both eyes or 6/9 in one of the worst eyes. 
Deck cadet eyesight
Deck Officer
  1. ENGINE CADET – Seafarers joining the engine side must have a vision of 6/12 in both eyes or 6/9 in the better eye and 6/18 in the worst eye. Since the duties of an engine cadet include filling up the log book, cleaning, taking engine room rounds, and working with engine room machinery, their eyesight eligibility can deviate a little from being perfect. However, if the cadet has 6/18 vision in one eye, he must not have a vision more than 6/9 in the other eye. 
Engineering Cadet eyesight
Engineering Cadet
  1. KITCHEN – This includes stewards, chief cooks, and other Salon rating posts. The eyesight eligibility for the kitchen side in the merchant navy is – 6/18 vision in both eyes or 6/12 in the better eye and 6/24 in the worst eye. Since the duties of the kitchen side do not completely rely on the eyesight of the professional, a weak vision, compared to other posts, is accepted too on the ship. 
Kitchen on ship
Kitchen on ship

Ways to treat your weak eyesight


This is a popular surgery that can correct vision in nearsighted, farsighted, or astigmatic people. It is one of many vision correction surgeries that reshape your cornea to achieve the perfect vision of 6/6. Consult an experienced ophthalmologist, as you should not go through Lasik if –

  • You are less than 18 years
  • Your eyesight keeps changing frequently
  • Have other health issues
LASIK Surgery eyesight
LASIK Surgery

Suppose you have your medical examination for the merchant navy in 6 months. Having a vision of 6/24, you are not eligible for the deck side of the ship and decide to get a Lasik surgery done. Dr. Sooraj Rana, a DG Shipping-approved doctor, shares that it is better for seafarers to get an early LASIK done as the healing might take some time.


This is an implanted contact lens surgery. In this, you have to pass a test by the ophthalmologist, after which you get a fitness certificate if the doctor finds fewer or no chances of post-surgery complications.

ICL Surgery Vs LASIK Surgery
ICL Surgery Vs LASIK Surgery

Suppose a deck cadet with an eyesight of 6/6 falls to eyesight of 6/9 within a few months of his first contract on the ship. In this case, he will be allowed to sail with spectacles. However, squint eyes are not allowed on either side of the Merchant Navy

At last, take care of your eyes and get the needful treatment done if you wish to sail as a seafarer in life.

Disclaimer :- The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Merchant Navy Decoded. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided and disclaim any responsibility for it. Data and visuals used are sourced from publicly available information and may not be authenticated by any regulatory body. Reviews and comments appearing on our blogs represent the opinions of individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of Merchant Navy Decoded. We are not responsible for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on these reviews or comments.

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Is squint allowed


Appeared for boards this year 77 % pcm , decided I’ll consult the doctor for my Lasik as my eyesight is weak . In reports he said u cannot go for LASIK as ur corneal thickness is less but very similar to it u can go for ICL .
Now I m confused if companies just allow Lasik or ICL is also allowed.


ICL is allowed if your eyesight is okay and your surgery & all reports are okay. I am sharing with you the link of video just go through it, you will understand in proper way.

Check out our Medical Series link for clearing doubts about medical fitness.

In case your query remains unanswered, you can go to our ‘ASK YOUR QUERY PAID PORTAL’ for personalised counselling. The link has been mentioned below:

If you are dissatisfied with our PAID PORTAL then your money will be refunded.
Never shy away from investing in yourself.

Team Merchant Navy Decoded.”

Safwan Ahmad

Hello 👋🏻 I want to join merchant Navy as a deck cadet through GP rating but my eye sight is weak I have farsitednes in left eye I have 6/9 vision and the second one is 6/12 am i eligible for the deck side.?

Aman Manwal

Hi Safwan, as of now you are not eligible for Deck Department but you can always go for Lasik and then appear for deck department.

Aman Manwal

Hi Safwan, as of now you are not eligible to join deck department but after going through Lasik you can anytime apply for the same.

Ritek nagam

My eye sight is 6/18 can I join GP rating course

Aman Manwal

your eye-sight is above the required limit for Deck or Engine Rating, so, you need to go under a lasik procedure to get into the Merchant Navy. You can get more info about medicals from our free Medical Series uploaded in our website.

Antaram Das

Dear Sir, LASIK is allowed in merchant navy but recently there is an another advanced and better eye correction surgery available in the market called SILK. Which is also a type of laser surgery simmilar to SMILE.

Will that be allowed in Merchant Navy medicals?

Aman Manwal

You can go for whatever treatment doctor suggests you. The only thing that matters is that your vision should be in eligible range.


sir i have – power in my eyes ,i wear specs but i have 6/6 vision.. am i eligible for deck side , pls reply

Aman Manwal

Hi Sambid, the thing is that if your vision is 6/6 and you don’t have any blurriness in your vision then you can go for Deck Department. However, if you have even a slight blurriness then you need to get treatement for that doesn’t matter if your vision is clear after specs or not. Hope that helps.

Aman Manwal

Hi Sambid, the thing is that if your vision is 6/6 and you don’t have any blurriness in your vision then you can go for Deck Department. However, if you have even a slight blurriness then you need to get treatment for that doesn’t matter if your vision is clear after specs or not. Hope that helps.


So I need to have no blurriness even If I have 6/6 vision

Aman Manwal

Yes, your vision should be clear without any specs. I suggest you to watch our free Medical Series or call us at 7417349336 for more information.


Sir my eyesight is 6/9 can I do gp rating

Aman Manwal

Yes Himanshu, you can join go for colleges like NUSI Goa and T.S.Rahaman, the condition is that you need to have 6/9 with 6/6 in the better eye.


So after lasik or icp i can join merchant navy as deck side

Aman Manwal

Yes Vishesh, after going through Lasik if your eyesight returns to normal then you can go for Deck side.


I have -1 in right eye and – 1.25 in left eye and I want to join as a deck cadet am I will be eligible if I do ICL instead of lasik …

Aman Manwal

Hi Shubham, it doesn’t matter which method you go for, you just need your eye-sight to be 6/6 and then you are good to go.


Sir after completing my dns course with 6/6 eyesight ,then if my eyesight get weak let’s say it becomes 6/9 ,then will i face any difficulty for joining first ship as a cadet and will i face any difficulty Joining as a third officer and upcomings ranks?Please reply sir…

Aman Manwal

Hi Adit, if your eyesight get out of 6/6 then surely you’ll face some problems joining your ship as 6/6 is required. So, you might need to go under lasik or other procedure after consulting with a DG Shipping medical.


Can a person with congenital nystagmus (mild) join merchant navy? Also the vision is balanced when looks through a certain angle and it is sometimes vibrated when looks straight.

Aman Manwal

Hey adi, I suggest you to take expert guidance of a DG Shipping Doctor in this matter, we will try to answer your query after asking a specialist.