Can Pilots Have Glasses?

Can pilots have glasses? For our safety, there are strict rules on who can become a pilot. Nonetheless, there are pilots who wear prescription glasses…

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This may come as a surprise to many, but you can become a pilot even if you wear prescription glasses. However, you must pass the medical standards set by different aviation authorities.

Without the glasses, your vision should not be worse than 20/30 (near vision) and 20/70 (distant vision). Both military pilots and commercial pilot have slightly different requirements to fly with glasses on.

Can I be an Airforce pilot with glasses?

Can pilots have glasses?

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A straightforward answer to this question would be – yes, you can be an air force pilot with glasses.

But a potential pilot must have a vision not less than 20/30 (near vision) and 20/70 (distance vision). These numbers indicate the uncorrected vision, that is, what a pilot can see without the glasses.

After putting on a pair of corrective lenses, the pilot’s vision must be a perfect 20/20.

However, if your vision is slightly worse than the minimum medical requirements, do not lose hope. Through alternative tests and medical examination, you can gain good vision and become a fighter pilot.

During training, if you have bad vision, the U.S. Air Force authority provides special progressive lenses to help you.

A medical test for pilots proceeds in this way:

  • Every pilot candidate must undergo a thorough medical examination to check whether they meet the eyesight requirements.
  • Candidates with an uncorrected vision worse than 20/30 near vision or 20/70 distant vision must wear special glasses prescribed by the government.
  • During the tests, a candidate’s intermediate vision, distant visual acuity, near vision, perception of depth and normal color vision will be assessed.
  • Candidates with anomalies will be treated accordingly.
  • Those with imperfect vision might have to wear special glasses during the training. The idea behind this is to train a candidate so well, they do not need visual aids after graduating.
  • Most fighter pilots need to learn how to operate dual controls with a co-pilot in the air. Proper vision is necessary for that.

Although not compulsory, a pilot candidate can also undergo corrective surgery for optimal correction. A corrective eye surgery procedure can take care of refractive errors.

Do you have to have perfect vision to be a pilot in the military?

Can pilots have glasses?

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Perfect vision is not mandatory to fly military aircraft.

Depending on the branch of the military, pilots are required for various jobs. However, fixed-wing aircraft are very uncommon in the military. Most military aircraft have rotary wings, like the helicopter.

For a potential pilot candidate to enter flying training, they must have a minimum vision of 20/50 in each eye. This vision can be correctable to 20/20.

After the training is complete, the standard for vision is relaxed a little. Military pilots can continue to fly as long as their vision does not deteriorate below 20/400 in each eye.

In addition to this, a pilot should possess normal color vision along with proper perception of depth (binocular vision).

For those looking forward to getting corrective eye surgery, you can do so and still apply for flight training. But you need to be accepted into the study program of the Army’s Aviator Laser Eye Surgery.

Can you be a navy pilot with glasses?

When it comes to navy pilots, their standards for eye vision is the same as that of the Marine Corps. This is because the Marine Corps does not have its own medical department.

If you wish to join the navy as a pilot, taking over jobs like carrier operations, your uncorrected vision cannot be worse than 20/40 in each eye. This vision should be correctable to 20/20.

The above-mentioned criteria is mandatory to clear the Class 1 Flying Physical. After you make it to the flight training school, your vision should not deteriorate beyond 20/100 in each eye.

If your vision goes below 20/200 (correctable to 20/20), you cannot execute carrier operations without a waiver.

A deterioration below 20/400 (which can be corrected to 20/20) means you can only fly dual controls aircraft. Solo flying is out of bounds for you as a pilot. 

Can pilots wear contact lenses?

There is a divide between the military pilots and civil pilots (or private pilot) when it comes to the use of contact lenses.

In the case of civil pilots, the Federal Aviation Administration allows them to wear contact lenses, provided they meet the following requirements –

  • Pilots should have worn contact lenses on the ground comfortably, for 5 days a week (8 hours a day). This should continue for a month before a pilot can wear contact lenses in the air.
  • The optical power should not be exceeding -6.0 dioptres.
  • There should be no monocular visual acuities or any significant pathology.
  • Pilots cannot wear monovision contact lenses to fly. Apart from this, pilots are not allowed to wear varifocal/bifocal lenses, colored lenses and Orthokeratology lenses.

When it comes to military pilots, different branches have different viewpoints on the use of contact lenses at work.

  • Generally, the use of corrective glasses is preferred unless the pilot has a medical condition which requires them to wear contact lenses.
  • Until 1989, the Air Force did not allow contact lenses as a replacement for spectacles. Pilots could only wear contacts if necessitated by a medical condition.
  • Pilots can procure contact lenses from civilian specialist. But they need to be approved by the flight physician.
  • Army on the other hand, discourages the use of contact lenses over spectacles. Due to their exposure to tough environments, glasses prove to be more robust and dependable than contacts.
  • Marine and Navy pilots also must wear glasses. They can wear contacts if a medical condition mandates them too. Otherwise, glasses are preferred.
  • However, the co-pilots (Class 2 Personnel) can wear contact lenses. Such individuals are usually tasked with radar interception, navigation, bombarding etc.

Can you be a pilot with astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a treatable medical condition which results from an imperfect eye curvature. It causes blurriness in the near and distant vision.

This condition is often correctable with the use of contact lenses. If you have already finished your pilot training, you can get a medical certification that proves your astigmatism.

With the medical certificate, you can get a waiver to wear contact lenses during a flight. If you are a co-pilot, you may not even need that permission to wear contact lenses.

Can you have corrected vision and be a pilot?

The term “corrected vision” refers to a vision which achieves a perfect 20/20 using aids, such as glasses or lenses.

Both civil and military aviation allow pilots to correct their vision, provided their uncorrected vision is above a set standard.

Authorities lean more towards the use of glasses than contact lenses. The problem with lenses is that you have to regularly remove them otherwise they can dry up.

Can you be a pilot with Lasik?

Can pilots have glasses?

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Absolutely! A Lasik surgery can correct your eye to perfect 20/20 vision. This means you do not have to rely on glasses or contact lenses.

Although uncommon, accidents can happen which might damage your contact lenses or break your glasses. Under such conditions, your vision will get compromised. As a pilot, you cannot afford to lose your sight.

Before 2007, the US Air force did not allow Lasik-operated candidates to fly, unless they got the surgery after completing their training.

The Air Force authorities realized that the effect of high G-forces were the same on Lasik eyes as they were on untreated eyes.

However, candidates must meet the medical standards for vision and sight to become a part of the Air force.

Pilot eyesight requirements

The requirements for pilot eyesight vary from civil to military aviation.

Civil Aviation Requirement

  • 20/20 (or better) distance visual acuity in each eye (without or with correction).
  • 20/40 (or better) intermediate visual acuity in each eye (without or with correction).
  • 20/40 (or better) near vision acuity in each eye (without or with correction).
  • Good color vision

Military Aviation Requirement

  • Normal color vision, field of vision and depth of perception.
  • Airforce: 20/30 near visual acuity, 20/70 distance visual acuity – these are minimum requirements of uncorrected vision.
  • Navy and Marine Corps: 20/100 to 20/400 distance acuity (minimum standard of uncorrected vision)
  • Army: 20/50 visual acuity (minimum requirement of uncorrected vision)

FAQ relating to whether pilots can have glasses

Why do you need good eyesight to be a pilot?

Yes, as a pilot you need to have good vision to view great distances. However, even if you do not have perfect vision, you can use means to correct it through glasses, contact lenses or surgery.

Can I be a pilot with 20 30 vision?

Absolutely, yes. To become an Air Force pilot you must have at least 20/30 near vision without the use of correction. Ultimately, you will have to wear glasses, contact lenses or get Lasik to achieve a perfect 20/20 vision.

Do Air Force pilots need perfect vision?

Perfect vision is an ideal preference. However, as long as you meet the minimum standards for eyesight, you can use corrective means to achieve 20/20 vision.

Can pilots have tattoos?

As per the Airline Transport License (ATP) Flight School, no pilot is allowed to wear tattoos visible in uniform. This means you may get tattoos on the areas of your body which are not visible. 

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