Pilots must have fantastic eyesight to do their job safely. Therefore, there are military pilot vision requirements before becoming a pilot.
Pilots often deal with low visibility and blind spots while flying.
Also, eyes take a few seconds to adapt to lower visibility, so eye health needs to be as good as possible for safety reasons.
Eye health includes vision acuity, depth perception, the field of vision, and color vision.
However, just because eyesight is not perfect does not mean you cannot become a pilot.
Related Article – Vision Requirements for All Military Branches
Navy Pilot Vision Requirements
The Navy does eye exams on all recruits, and the eyesight requirements are even more strict for those wishing to become a Navy pilot.
The Navy looks at all areas of the eye.
The eye doctor considers the field of vision, color vision, distant visual acuity, near visual acuity, and depth perception.
Many believe Navy pilots must have 20/20 vision to become a pilot in the Navy.
While the preference is good eyesight, you can still become a Navy pilot if you wear glasses or contact lenses.
However, your vision must be correctable to 20/20 vision.
According to the Navy, all personnel must fly with distant acuity vision correctable to 20/20.
Also, if the uncorrected distant vision is 20/100 or worse, pilots must carry a spare pair of glasses.
As for near vision, if the uncorrected vision is worse than 20/40, pilots must have a way to correct the vision with glasses or contacts.
Furthermore, pilots need normal color vision and depth perception, and a full field of vision.
Also, these requirements are necessary for new pilots.
It is usual for vision to worsen over the years; therefore, vision can get as bad as 20/100 in each eye if the vision is correctable to 20/20.
Furthermore, to meet military pilot vision requirements, many pilots or those wishing to be a pilot undergo Lasik surgery to correct their vision, which is allowed.
Pilots report contact lenses cause dry eyes, and having to wear glasses while flying is a nuisance, and having Lasik is an option that eliminates those problems.
If eyesight deteriorates further, a waiver is required to continue carrier operations.
Also, some pilots end up restricted to craft with dual controls.
Related Article – Navy Pilot Requirements
Air Force Pilot Vision Requirements
Just like the Navy, the Air Force does vision screening on all new recruits.
Those who wish to be a pilot in the Air Force have stricter vision requirements, however.
All pilots must have normal color vision, and there is no waiver available for those without color vision.
For pilot training eligibility, the candidate’s vision must be at or better than 20/70 in each eye, and the vision must be correctable to 20/20.
To get into navigator training, you must also have vision that is 20/200 or better, which must be correctable to 20/20 vision.
Also, the difference between a pilot and a navigator is that a pilot does the flying while the navigator guides the pilot safely.
Pilots who complete flight school can have vision that worsens as long as it stays at or below 20/400 and the vision is correctable.
Fortunately, pilots and navigators can now have Lasik treatment to correct vision and still be eligible for their jobs if they do not wish to wear contacts or glasses.
Lastly, medical standards for vision do allow for astigmatism up to 1.50D. However, there are waivers available for pilots up to 3.00 D.
Related Article – Air Force Pilot Requirements
Army Pilot Vision Requirements
Despite being a primarily land-based branch of the military, the Army does have pilots.
Army pilots must have distant visual acuity equal to or better than 20/50 in either eye that is correctable to 20/20.
The near vision acuity must be correctable to 20/20 vision, as well.
Also, astigmatism greater than +/- 1.00 diopter of the cylinder in either eye will not meet the Army’s minimum standards of military pilot vision requirements.
The Army’s color vision is not as strict as other branches as a potential pilot can have up to three mistakes on the test plates.
Also, you must score at least a 55 score in red, blue, and green for the computer version of the color test.
Also, normal depth perception is a requirement.
After training, the Army will not disqualify a pilot for worsening vision as long as the vision is 20/400 or better.
Although, the vision still must be correctable to 20/20.
Army pilots are allowed Lasik surgery to correct their vision.
Also, it is worth mentioning that Army pilots report acceptance into Army aviation school is competitive, and vision is part of the process.
Related Article – Army Helicopter Pilot Requirements
Marine Corps Pilot Vision Requirements
The Marines and the Navy both have the same Class I Flying Physical with which to contend.
The Marines fall under the Department of the Navy for administrative reasons.
Therefore, the Marines and the Navy pilots are trained at Naval Air Stations by Naval Aviators.
While they are both technically Naval Aviators, the Navy and Marine pilots have different specialties after flight school.
Furthermore, they have the same expectations regarding vision.
Marine pilots have military pilot vision requirements such as correctable vision to 20/20.
Also, Marine pilots must have normal color vision.
Moreover, the expectation is that depth perception and the field of vision be normal.
After aviation school, if vision worsens, as long as the vision is at or better than 20/100 in either eye and correctable to 20/20, you will not be disqualified.
You can still wear contacts or glasses as a Marine Aviator.
Although, you may have Lasik surgery if you wish to correct your vision without needing contacts or glasses.
Related Article – Marine Corps Pilot Requirements
Coast Guard Pilot Vision Requirements
Despite the notion that the Coast Guard is a sea-faring branch, there are pilots in the Coast Guard as well.
Just like the other military branches, there are vision requirements for pilots in this branch.
For visual acuity, pilots must have 20/20 vision.
However, as long as the vision is 20/40 or better, glasses or contacts can correct the vision to 20/20.
Color vision in the Coast Guard must be normal with no corrective measures.
Also, depth perception is necessary, and if there are corrective aids used to fix depth perception, it is allowed.
However, these corrective measures must always be in use.
Furthermore, the field of vision in each eye must be normal.
Some Coast Guard pilots wish to have Lasik surgery.
The Coast Guard does allow waivers for Lasik surgery as long as pilots or potential pilots meet all other vision requirements.
Related Article – Coast Guard Pilot Requirements
There are several reasons why there are military pilot vision requirements including coping with low visibility conditions and blind spots.
Each branch of the military has its own requirements, although many of the requirements are very similar.
The Navy and the Marines attend the same aviation school and are held to the same standards for physicals.
Also, the other branches of the military, including the Air Force, Army, and Coast Guard have their own standards and expectations regarding pilot’s vision.
In most cases, waivers are available for those who can correct their vision to 20/20 by using contacts or glasses.
Also, Lasik surgery is acceptable, and many military pilots use laser surgery to correct their vision without the use of contacts or glasses.
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