What visual requirements are pilots subject to?

Pilots are often subject to sight requirements, as being able to see is extremely important to their profession. Requirements generally vary by country, and often the requirements for fighter pilots and commercial pilots may differ. Nevertheless, near perfect vision (with the help of glasses) is expected in most countries.

Pilots who require goggles should also follow the guidelines outlined in their medical certificate. For example, in most countries, such as the UK and the US, pilots wearing goggles should always carry an extra pair in case of an emergency.

SIMPLEFLYING VIDEO OF THE DAY

FAA Guidelines

Pilots are required to undergo regular eye tests to ensure they are properly equipped to fly aircraft in commercial and military aviation. In the United States, commercial pilots are required to have 20/20 vision when flying the aircraft. However, this is not always biologically possible, and so the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows its pilots to perform their eye tests with prescription glasses or contact lenses.

Not all prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses are allowed by FAA rules and regulations. Commercial pilots with refractive errors and presbyopia are advised to wear progressive glasses or multifocal glasses to correct their vision to an acceptable level.


Monovision contact lenses (one contact lens prescribed for distance vision and the other for near vision) are, however, not acceptable according to the FAA because they tend to impair binocular vision and progression. in depth, which can affect pilots. ability to fly an airplane safely.

International vision requirements

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has similar rules regarding pilot vision. However, their requirements are more detailed than those of the FAA:

A candidate [to be a pilot] may be assessed as fit with hyperopia not exceeding +5.0 diopters, myopia not exceeding -6.0 diopters, astigmatism not exceeding 2.0 diopters and anisometropia not exceeding 2.0 diopters, provided that optimal correction has been considered and no significant pathology has been demonstrated. Monocular visual acuities should be 6/6 or better.


In the UK, pilots who require goggles are asked (on their medical certificate) to follow certain guidelines. The most important rule is that these pilots must wear a spare pair of goggles while on duty. However, some eyewear is not permitted under CAA guidelines – pilots should not wear polarized glasses or bifocal contact lenses while flying.

fighter pilot in the cockpitIn the army

Commercial pilots and military pilots also have different vision requirements. In the United States Air Force, service members’ eyesight is carefully tested by medical professionals before training to decide if those service members will need eyeglasses. For example, the benchmark in the Air Force is that all service members must have a refractive error between +8.00 diopters and -8.00 diopters. Additionally, Air Force service members must also have near 20/20 vision and they must have normal color vision.


Other branches of the US military also have different vision requirements, and these requirements also depend on the nature of the service members’ duties within the military.

About Marion Alexander

Check Also

Impact of an intervention for preventable vision loss on visual function in the elderly – The Hyderabad Ocular Morbidity in Elderly Study (HOMES)

Bourne R, Steinmetz JD, Flaxman S, Briant PS, Taylor HR, Resnikoff S, et al. Trends …