Vision Requirements for Pilots

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EyeQue Team

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September 13, 2018

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Vision Standards

If you want to drive a car, there are certain vision standards you must meet. You have to pass a vision test in order to get a driver’s license. It’s a logical requirement- you want to be able to read all the signs! Are there vision requirements for those with a certain job, like airline pilots? Are they stricter?

The short answer is yes. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires pilots to take a comprehensive vision test by an Aviation Medical Examiner. In order to get a First-Class FAA Medical Certificate needed to fly a commercial passenger airline, you must have at least:

  • 20/20 distant vision in each eye
  • 20/40 near vision in each eye
  • 20/40 intermediate vision in each eye

If these numbers are achievable with correction, you will still be able to fly. So you can wear glasses!

Color Vision

If you want a pilot license, colorblindness or color deficiency is more of a gray area (no pun intended). There are scenarios where certain color deficiencies are permissible. However, the FAA requires you to have good enough color vision to identify important things like aircraft position lights, airport beacons, chart symbols, and more. You need a more thorough color vision test to ensure that you can safely carry out your pilot duties.

Military pilots have even stricter vision requirements than commercial airline pilots. These requirements vary slightly depending on the branch of the military. The Air Force requires pilots to have no less than 20/70 vision in each eye, correctable to 20/20. As of 2007, aspiring military pilots who have had PRK or LASIK eye surgery are no longer immediately disqualified from flight school. This change has made flying for the military a much more accessible career option.

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