Pilot Vision Requirements and LASIK

Can Pilots Get LASIK?

Want to become a pilot, but worried about pilot vision requirements? Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need 20/20 vision to become a pilot. Depending on what type of pilot you’re hoping to become, vision requirements vary. These days, pilots can even achieve the necessary vision requirements through corrective vision surgery such as LASIK or PRK.  

Commercial Pilot Vision Requirements

There are three types of professional pilot certificate classes – each requires that your vision is correctable to 20/20 and that you’re able to perceive those colors necessary for safely operating a plane. As long as you meet these requirements, you can pass the pilot eye test and are eligible to earn a 1st Class FAA Medical Certificate – the highest license available for commercial pilots.  

Military Pilot Vision Requirements

Military pilot vision requirements are more strict.

The Air Force ROTC enforces high standards with candidate vision requirements: vision must be no worse than 20/200 (correctable to 20/20) in each eye.

The Navy and Marine branches share vision requirements for pilots: 20/100 (correctable to 20/20) in each eye to apply for unrestricted flight duties. After training, vision must stay better than 20/400 (correctable to 20/20) to fly without a waiver.

For a class 1 pilot’s license in the Army, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Distant visual acuity of 20/50 or better in each eye (and correctable to 20/20)
  • Near visual acuity of 20/20 in each eye

LASIK and Pilots

Vision requirements for pilots are constantly changing with advances in technology. In the past, the military did not accept candidates who had the LASIK or PRK procedure. Since these surgeries are now proven safe long-term, those restrictions have changed. Now the Air Force, Navy, and Marines each encourage applicants who’ve had vision correction surgeries to apply as well.

If you’re considering LASIK and would like to be a military pilot, contact the military branch where you hope to fly for updated information on laser vision surgery requirements. Keep meticulous pre and post-op records of your LASIK surgery, as military branches have different acceptable pre-surgery vision requirements.

For the most up-to-date information on pilot vision requirements, consult the organization where you plan to fly. If you’re interested in a vision correction procedure like LASIK or PRK, contact a medical professional like Dr. Lipstock who understands the unique vision demands of pilots. For a free LASIK consultation, contact Lipstock LASIK today.

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