Vision for Pilots

We specialize in pilot glasses using technologies such as Zeiss lenses, special tinting, special frames and special lens types. 

Pilot Vision Standards:

Distant Vision

20/20 or better in each eye separately, with or without correction. 20/40 or better in each eye separately, with or without correction.

  • When corrective lenses are required to meet the standards, an appropriate limitation will be placed on the medical certificate. For example, when lenses are needed for distant vision only:
    • HOLDER SHALL WEAR CORRECTIVE LENSES
  • For multiple vision defects involving distant and/or intermediate and/or near vision when one set of monofocal lenses corrects for all, the limitation is:
    • HOLDER SHALL WEAR CORRECTIVE LENSES
  • For combined defective distant and near visual acuity where multifocal lenses are required, the appropriate limitation is:
    • HOLDER SHALL WEAR LENSES THAT CORRECT FOR DISTANT VISION AND POSSESS GLASSES THAT CORRECT FOR NEAR VISION
  • For multiple vision defects involving distant, near, and intermediate visual acuity when more than one set of lenses is required to correct for all vision defects, the appropriate limitation is:
    • HOLDER SHALL WEAR LENSES THAT CORRECT FOR DISTANT VISION AND POSSESS GLASSES THAT CORRECT FOR NEAR AND INTERMEDIATE VISION
  • An applicant who fails to meet vision standards and has no SODA that covers the extent of the visual acuity defect found on examination may obtain further FAA consideration for grant of an Authorization under the special issuance section of part 67 (14 CFR 67.401) for medical certification by submitting a report of an eye evaluation. The Examiner can help to expedite the review procedure by forwarding a copy of FAA Form 8500-7, Report of Eye Evaluation, that has been completed by an eye specialist (optometrist or ophthmologist) 24.
  • Applicants who do not meet the visual standards should be referred to a specialist for evaluation. Applicants with visual acuity or ocular muscle balance problems may be referred to an eye specialist of the applicant’s choice. The FAA Form 8500-7, Report of Eye Evaluation, should be provided to the specialist by the Examiner.
  • Amblyopia: In amblyopia ex anopsia, the visual acuity of one eye is decreased without presence of organic eye disease, usually because of strabismus or anisometropia in childhood. In amblyopia ex anopsia, the visual acuity loss is simply recorded in Item 50 of FAA Form 8500-8, and visual standards are applied as usual. If the standards are not met, a report of eye evaluation, FAA Form 8500-7, should be submitted for consideration.
  • In obtaining special eye evaluations in respect to the airman medical certification program, reports from an eye specialist are acceptable when the condition being evaluated relates to a determination of visual acuity, refractive error, or mechanical function of the eye. The FAA Form 8500-7, Report of Eye Evaluation, is a form that is designed for use by either optometrists or ophthalmologists.
  • Any applicant eligible for a medical certificate through special issuance under these guidelines shall pass a MFT, which may be arranged through the appropriate agency medical authority.
Near and Intermediate Vision

Near: 20/40 or better in each eye separately (Snellen equivalent), with or without correction, as measured at 16 inches.
Intermediate: 20/40 or better in each eye separately (Snellen equivalent), with or without correction at age 50 and over, as measured at 32 inches

When correcting glasses are required to meet the near and intermediate vision standards, an appropriate limitation will be placed on the medical certificate. Contact lenses that correct only for near or intermediate visual acuity are not considered acceptable for aviation duties.

If the applicant meets the uncorrected near or intermediate vision standard of 20/40, but already uses spectacles that correct the vision better than 20/40, it is recommended that the Examiner enter the limitation for near or intermediate vision corrective glasses on the certificate.

  • For all classes, the appropriate wording for the near vision limitation is:
    • HOLDER SHALL POSSESS GLASSES THAT CORRECT FOR NEAR VISION
    • Possession only is required, because it may be hazardous to have distant vision obscured by the continuous wearing of reading glasses.
  • For first- and second-class, the appropriate wording for combined near and intermediate vision limitation is:
    • HOLDER SHALL POSSESS GLASSES THAT CORRECT FOR NEAR AND INTERMEDIATE VISION
  • For multiple defective distant, near, and intermediate visual acuity when unifocal glasses or contact lenses are used and correct all, the appropriate limitation is:
    • HOLDER SHALL WEAR CORRECTIVE LENSES
  • For multiple vision defects involving distance and/or near and/or intermediate visual acuity when more than one set of lenses is required to correct for all vision defects, the appropriate limitation is:
    • HOLDER SHALL WEAR LENSES THAT CORRECT FOR DISTANT VISION AND POSSESS GLASSES THAT CORRECT FOR NEAR AND INTERMEDIATE VISION
Color Vision

Ability to perceive those colors necessary for safe performance of airman duties.

  • Visual fields: If an applicant fails to identify the target in any presentation at a distance of less than 23 inches from the fixation point, an eye specialist’s evaluation must be requested. The Examiner should provide FAA Form 8500-14, Ophthalmological Evaluation for Glaucoma:
    • Glaucoma: The FAA may grant an Authorization under the special issuance section of part 67 (14 CFR 67.401) on an individual basis. The Examiner can facilitate FAA review by obtaining a report of Ophthalmological Evaluation for Glaucoma (FAA Form 8500-14) from a treating or evaluating eye specialist.
    • If considerable disturbance in night vision is documented, the FAA may limit the medical certificate: NOT VALID FOR NIGHT FLYING.
  • Heterophoria:
    • First- and Second-class: If an applicant exceeds the heterophoria standards (1 prism diopter of hyperphoria, 6 prism diopters of esophoria, or 6 prism diopters of exophoria), but shows no evidence of diplopia or serious eye pathology and all other aspects of the examination are favorable, the Examiner should not withhold or deny the medical certificate. The applicant should be advised that the FAA may require further examination by a qualified eye specialist.
    • Third-class: Applicants for a third-class certificate are not required to undergo heterophoria testing. However, if an applicant has strabismus or a history of diplopia, the Examiner should defer issuance of a certificate and forward the application to the AMCD. If the applicant wishes further consideration, the Examiner can help expedite FAA review by providing the applicant with a copy of FAA Form 8500-7, Report of Eye Evaluation.

TESTS APPROVED FOR AIRMEN ARE NOT ALL ACCEPTABLE FOR AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS (FAA employee 2152 series and contract tower air traffic controllers).

FOR ATCS INFORMATION, see the Acceptable Test Instruments for Color Vision Screening of ATCS (PDF) chart or contact your RFS for any questions.

For Airmen

The following criteria apply to AIRMEN ONLY:

An applicant meets the color vision standard if he/she passes any of the color vision tests listed in Examination Techniques, Item 52. Color Vision. If an applicant fails any of these tests, inform the applicant of the option of taking any of the other acceptable color vision tests listed in Item 52. Color Vision Examination Equipment and Techniques before requesting the Specialized Operational Medical Tests in Section D below.

Inform the applicant that if he/she takes and fails any component of theSpecialized Operational Medical Tests (PDF) in Section D, then he/she will not be permitted to take any of the remaining listed office-based color vision tests in Examination Techniques, Item 52. Color Vision as an attempt to remove any color vision limits or restrictions on their airman medical certificate. That pathway is no longer an option to the airman, and no new result will be considered.

An applicant does not meet the color vision standard if testing reveals:

A. All Classes

  • AOC (1965 edition) pseudoisochromatic plates: seven or more errors on plates 1-15.
  • AOC-HRR (second edition): Any error in test plates 7-11. Because the first 4 plates in the test book are for demonstration only, test plate 7 is actually the eleventh plate in the book. (See instruction booklet.)
  • Dvorine pseudoisochromatic plates (second edition, 15 plates): seven or more errors on plates 1-15.
  • Ishihara pseudoisochromatic plates: Concise 14-plate edition: six or more errors on plates 1-11; the 24-plate edition: seven or more errors on plates 1-15; the 38-plate edition: nine or more errors on plates 1-21.
  • Richmond (1983 edition) pseudoisochromatic plates: seven or more errors on plates 1-15.
  • OPTEC 900 Vision tester and Farnsworth Lantern test: an average of more than one error per series of nine color pairs in series 2 and 3. (See instruction booklet.)
  • Titmus Vision Tester, Titmus i400, OPTEC 2000 Vision Tester, Keystone Orthoscope, or Keystone View Telebinocular: any errors in the six plates.
  • Richmond-HRR, 4th edition: two or more errors on plates 5-24. Plates 1-4 are for demonstration only; plates 5-10 are screening plates; and plates 11-24 are diagnostic plates.

B. Certificate Limitation

If an applicant fails to meet the color vision standard as interpreted above but is otherwise qualified, the Examiner must issue a medical certificate bearing the limitation:

NOT VALID FOR NIGHT FLYING OR BY COLOR SIGNAL CONTROL

C. The color vision screening tests above (Section A) are not to be used for the purpose of removing color vision limits/restrictions from medical certificates of airmen who have failed the Specialized Operational Medical Tests below (Section D). See bold paragraph in the introduction of this section (above).

D. Specialized Operational Medical Tests for Applicants Who Do Not Meet the Standard.

Applicants who fail the color vision screening test as listed, but desire an airman medical certificate without the color vision limitation, may be given, upon request, an opportunity to take and pass additional operational color perception tests. If the airman passes the operational color vision perception test(s), then he/she will be issued a Letter of Evidence (LOE).

  • The operational tests are determined by the class of medical certificate requested. The request should be in writing and directed to AMCD or RFS. See NOTE for description of the operational color perception tests.
  • Applicants for a third-class medical certificate need only take the Operational Color Vision Test (OCVT).
  • The applicant is permitted to take the OCVT only once during the day. If the applicant fails, he/she may request to take the OCVT at night. If the applicant elects to take the OCVT at night, he/she may take it only once.
  • For an upgrade to first- or second-class medical certificate, the applicant must first pass the OCVT during daylight and then pass the color vision Medical Flight Test (MFT). If the applicant fails the OCVT during the day, he/she will not be allowed to apply for an upgrade to First- or Second-Class certificate. If the applicant fails the color vision MFT, he/she is not permitted to upgrade to first- or second-class certificate.

E. An LOE may restrict an applicant to a third-class medical certificate. Airmen shall not be issued a medical certificate of higher class than indicated on the LOE. Exercise care in reviewing an LOE before issuing a medical certificate to an airman.

F. Color Vision Correcting Lens (e.g. X-Chrom)
Such lenses are unacceptable to the FAA as a means for correcting a pilot’s color vision deficiencies.

G. Any tests not specifically listed above are unacceptable methods of testing for FAA medical certificate. Examples of unacceptable tests include, but are not limited to, the OPTEC 5000 Vision Tester (color vision portion), “Farnsworth Lantern Flashlight,” “yarn tests,” and AME-administered aviation Signal Light Gun test (AME office use is prohibited). Web-based color vision applications, downloaded, or printed versions of color vision tests are also prohibited. Examiners must use actual and specific color vision plates and testing machinery for applicant evaluations.

NOTE:

An applicant for a third-class airman medical certificate who has defective color vision and desires an airman medical certificate without the color vision limitation must demonstrate the ability to pass an OCVT during the day. The OCVT consists of the following:

  • A Signal Light Test (SLT): Identify in a timely manner aviation red, green, and white
  • Aeronautical chart reading: Read and correctly interpret in a timely manner aeronautical charts, including print in various sizes, colors, and typefaces; conventional markings in several colors; and, terrain colors

An applicant for a first- or second- class airman medical certificate who has defective color vision and desires an airman medical certificate without the color vision limitation must first demonstrate the ability to pass the OCVT during the day (as above) and then must pass a color vision Medical Flight Test (MFT). The color vision MFT is performed in the aircraft, including in-flight testing. It consists of the following:

  • Read and correctly interpret in a timely manner aviation instruments or displays
  • Recognize terrain and obstructions in a timely manner
  • Visually identify in a timely manner the location, color, and significance of aeronautical lights such as, but not limited to, lights of other aircraft in the vicinity, runway lighting systems, etc.

Applicants who take and pass both the OCVT during the day and the color vision MFT will be given a letter of evidence (LOE) valid for all classes of medical certificates and will have no limitation or comment made on the certificate regarding color vision as they meet the standard for all classes. Applicants who take and pass only the OCVT during the day will be given an LOE valid only for third-class medical certificate.

An applicant who fails the SLT portion of the OCVT during daylight hours may repeat the test at night. Should the airman pass the SLT at night, the restriction “NOT VALID FOR FLIGHT DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS BY COLOR SIGNAL CONTROL” will be placed on the replacement medical certificate. The airman must have taken the daylight hours test first and failed prior to taking the night test.

Learn More About Pilot Vision Standards:

All military aviation services require eyesight to be correctable to 20/20 and remain correctable to 20/20 for a pilot to keep flying. Here are the following standards of the military pilots for vision.

Air Force

To enter flight training, a candidate must pass a Flight Class I Flying Physical which means the candidate’s vision can be no worse than 20/70 without correction and be correctable (with glasses or contacts) to 20/20 in each eye. To enter Navigator Training, the candidate can have vision no worse than 20/200 in each eye and must be correctable to 20/20 in each eye.

The standards relax a little after flight school. Pilots and Navigators who have already graduated flight training can still fly if their uncorrected vision doesn’t deteriorate beyond 20/400 in each eye and each eye can still be corrected to 20/20.

Normal depth perception and color vision is required.

Applicants who have had PRK and LASIK eye surgery are no longer automatically disqualified from flight training. Effective May 21, 2007, the Air Force allows flight training and navigator training for applicants who have had LASIK surgery. There are not altitude and high-performance aircraft restrictions for people who have had LASIK.

The Air Force has found there was little to no effect on LASIK-treated eyes when subjected to high G-forces of combat fighter aircraft, the wind blast experienced during aircraft ejection, or exposure to high altitude.

The refractive surgeries the Air Force recommends are Wave Front Guided Photorefractive Keratectomy or WFG-PRK, and Wave Front Guided Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis, known as WFG-LASIK, using the femtosecond laser.

There is no guarantee of “perfect” sight after undergoing refractive surgery. Individuals must still meet the standards prescribed in AFI 48-123 Medical Examination and Standards, for entrance into the Air Force and aviation and special-duty positions.

Navy and Marine Corps

The Navy and the Marine Corps use the same standards. Pilots must pass a Class I Flying Physical. An applicant’s uncorrected vision can be no worse than 20/40 in each eye and correctable to 20/20 in each eye. After flight training begins, vision can not deteriorate to worse than 20/100 in each eye and needs to be correctable to 20/20 in each eye. After flight training graduation, if the eyesight deteriorates worse than 20/200 in each eye and is correctable to 20/20 in each eye, the pilot will require a waiver for carrier operations. If the vision deteriorates past 20/400 each eye and is still correctable to 20/20 in each eye, the pilot is restricted to aircraft with dual controls.

For Navigators (called “NFOs” or “Navy Flight Officers”), the vision must be correctable to 20/20 and there are limits on refraction. Refraction must be less than or equal to plus or minus 8.00 sphere in any meridian and less than or equal to minus 3.00 cylinder. No more than 3.50 anisometropia. After flight training, to continue flight status there is no limit on refraction for NFOs. No waivers are authorized for NFO applicants who exceed these refraction limits.

Normal color vision is required for both NFOs and pilots. Normal depth perception is required for pilots and pilot applicants.
The Navy allows for both LASIK and PRK laser eye surgery, for current pilots and NFOs, and for pilot/NFO applicants.

Army and Rotary Wing

The majority of Army pilots are helicopter pilots. Army Aviators must pass a Flight Class I Flying Physical. To enter Army Helicopter Flight Training, as either a commissioned officer or warrant officer, the applicant can have vision no worse than 20/50 and correctable to 20/20 in each eye. After flight training, pilots can remain on flight status as long as their vision does not get worse than 20/400 and is correctable to 20/20.

Normal depth perception and normal color vision are required.

Applicants who have had PRK and LASIK eye surgery are not disqualified from flight training.

FAA AND MILITARY STANDARDS OFTEN CHANGE SO PLEASE CONTACT THE MILITARY BRANCH TO MAKE SURE OF THE MOST CURRENT VISION STANDARDS.