Eyesight Requirement for Seafarers

Last updated on August 23rd, 2023 at 04:12 pm

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.

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6 months ago


1 month ago

Is squint allowed

1 month ago

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.

siyagurung45460@gmail.com siyagurung45460@gmail.com
siyagurung45460@gmail.com siyagurung45460@gmail.com
1 month ago

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.
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Team Merchant Navy Decoded.”