We all know that the requirements to be an air traffic controller can be very strict.
These requirements include education, training, a medical exam, and more.
One common question that prospective air traffic controllers have is if they will run into issues if they wear glasses or contact lenses to correct their vision. Many people depend on glasses or contacts for their vision and if wearing them disqualifies you from the role, people would want to know sooner rather than later.
The last thing you’d want to do is spend time and effort preparing for and applying for a career that you won’t qualify for due to vision requirements.
Are you allowed to be an air traffic controller if you wear glasses or contacts?
Yes, air traffic controllers are permitted to wear glasses or contacts as long as their corrected vision meets the FAA’s vision requirements.
In this article we will take a closer look at the vision requirements the FAA has set for air traffic controllers as it relates to wearing glasses and contact lenses.
FAA Vision Requirements for Air Traffic Controllers
The FAA has established vision standards for air traffic controllers. They are as follows:
- 20/20 distant vision in each eye separately
- 20/40 in each eye eye at 16 inches near vision
- 20/40 in each eye at 32 inches intermediate inches (if 50 years old or older)
- All of the above can be with or without correction (glasses)
As you can see, while there are requirements as to the quality of your vision, as long as you meet those standards it makes no difference to the FAA if you’re wearing glasses.
Reason for Requirements
The main reason that the FAA has vision requirements for air traffic controllers is safety. Since the job requires controllers to get information from a variety of visual sources (computers, radars, phones) it’s very important that they are able to read and understand the screen effectively.
Air traffic controllers play a huge part in aviation safety by helping pilots plan and navigate routes. They assist with organizing take-offs and landings at airports as well.
All of these functions require ATC’s to be able to read and interpret information quickly and accurate from screens. Having vision issues could potentially create a very unsafe situation for pilots, passengers, and the cabin crew aboard the planes they are providing guidance for.
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Air Traffic Controllers and Contact Lenses
Yes, air traffic controllers can wear contact lenses to correct their vision.
The FAA does not differentiate between glasses or contact lenses. So, as long as you meet the vision requirements listed above you are free to decide if glasses or contacts are best for you.
This makes sense since regardless of which option you go with you can effectively do the job as long as your prescription is accurate and helps you meet the vision requirements.
Can Air Traffic Controllers Wear Bifocals?
Yes, if you require the use of bifocals due to correcting near and far vision you can still be an air traffic controller. The FAA gives the options for those who require this:
- Bifocal glasses
- Contact lenses plus reading glasses
- Bifocal contacts (newly approved)
This gives ATC’s several options to meet requirements, ensure they have good enough vision to safely perform all job duties, and choose the method of vision correction they prefer.
While the requirements to be an air traffic controller can be strict, wearing glasses or contacts will not prevent you from having a successful career.
The important thing to remember is that you’ll have to make sure that you have 20/20 vision when corrected. This will prevent you wearing glasses or contacts from being an issue since you’ll be able to see well enough to perform all job functions safely.
If you’re interested in becoming an air traffic controller and would like to learn more, make sure to visit the FAA’s website.