Aviation is one of the most sophisticated industries globally, and pilots are at the helm of the industry. They undertake crucial tasks in a vast dynamic environment based on hundreds if not thousands of visual cues. Therefore, the perfect vision of pilots is undeniably a must. With that said, one of the most debated concerns in the aviation industry emerges: can pilots wear glasses?
If you have the same problem, here is a complete guide that should nullify all the gray areas you had!
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 35.3% of teens in the age group of 12-17 wear glasses or contact lenses, which is a significant amount. As aviation is overly concerned about the perfect vision of pilots, many people believe that wearing glasses or contact lenses is not allowed in the aviation industry, especially for pilots. But here is a hard and fast answer, probably a good one for bespectacled souls around the globe, including me: pilots are allowed to wear glasses or contact lenses!
Vision requirements for an airline pilot
FAA, as the governing body in the United States, and other aviation authorities have set out requirements for a perfect vision.
Distant vision – 20/20 or higher with or without correction in each eye.
Near vision – 20/40 visual acuity in each eye separately measured at a distance of 16 inches.
Intermediate vision for pilots aged 50 and older- 20/40 visual acuity in each eye separately measured at a distance of 32 inches.
The aforementioned vision requirements are for the pilots who are willing to fly under class 1 or 2 medical certifications. The intermediate vision requirement is not listed under class 1 medical certification.
Distant vision: 6/9 (0,7) or higher is required for each eye separately with or without correction. The acuity of both eyes should be 6/6 (1,0) or better for non-corrected vision.
A pilot with a significant refractive error should use applicable contact lenses or wear glasses with high-index lenses.
Color vision deficiency or color blindness is the difficulty of differentiating between colors. Pilots should possess the ability to perceive colors during their usual aviation duties. Color vision can be tested by an eye care professional or by running a self-test available online. Wearing corrective lenses does not rectify the color vision.
Pilots who wear glasses for distant and near vision are advised to be equipped with a spare set of readily available glasses for immediate use during all kinds of aviation duties.
EASA recommends taking an Ishihara test to verify good vision and take further actions by meeting an eye care professional if the results are found to be unsatisfactory. If a doctor confirms a color vision deficiency, the individual is considered unfit for all flying activities.
The ability to see the world in three dimensions and identify the distance to an object comes with depth perception. People who lack this ability should undergo additional medical checks to prove their conformity to piloting an airplane.
Pilots with monovision
According to the FAA, a person is considered monovision if one eye is not functional or the corrected distance vision of the poor eye is no better than 20/200. In such cases, they are allowed to undergo medical certification of any class but undergo additional checks as prescribed by an eye care professional.
Usage of monocular contact lenses: one contact lens to correct near vision and another to correct distance vision will disqualify and consider a person unfit for duties.
Military pilot requirements
It is no wonder that military pilots have to go through stringent vision requirements before joining the air force. Here are some criteria specified in the U.S. air force:
20/20 of distant vision with or without correction
20/20 near vision without using glasses or contact lenses
A refractive error below + or – 8.0
No eye surgeries for vision correction.
If I have Diplopia (double vision), can I become a pilot?
We are afraid that people with Diplopia are considered unfit for flying.
Can I become a pilot with impaired binocular function?
Sadly, people with impaired binocular vision are considered unfit for flying.
I had eye surgery, will that disqualify me from becoming a pilot?
You are considered unfit until your normal vision is regained. Consult an ophthalmologist to ascertain the state of your vision.
Can air force pilots fly with glasses or contacts?
Yes, provided that the vision is corrected to the required level.
Are polarized sunglasses allowed in the cockpit?
Polarized glasses block horizontal light while allowing vertical light to diminish glare. This will impair pilots’ vision, especially when looking at LCDs that emit polarized light waves. Additionally, tints that block more than 85% of light are not recommended for aviation use.
Can pilots wear glasses or contact lenses?
Not this question anymore, now you know the answer!
Pilots, either commercial or military, are allowed to wear glasses or contact lenses provided that they meet the standard vision requirements with the corrections. So, if you have got four eyes, do not worry! For the people who have undergone eye surgeries, one extra step has to be taken to verify their competence for the duties.
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