There is a lot different information out there on if pilots are allowed to wear glasses or contact lenses. Many people who want to someday become a pilot but wear glasses or contacts wonder if they will be disqualified from the job.
So, can airline pilots wear glasses or contact lenses?
Yes, airline pilots can wear glasses as long as they meet all the vision requirements.
Let’s take a closer look at what those requirements are and some of the other details that come with them.
Vision Requirements for Airline Pilots
According to the FAA guidelines, these are the vision requirements for an airline pilot:
- Distant Vision: 20/20 in each eye separately, with or without correction
- Near Vision: 20/40 in each eye separately, with or without correction (measured at 16 inches)
- Intermediate Vision: 20/40 or better in each eye separately, with or without correction at age 50 and over (as measured at 32 inches)
As you can see – you can use contact lenses or glasses as long as you meet those vision requirements.
Refractive Errors (Nearsighted, Farsighted, Astigmatism)
The FAA requires that anyone with a refractive error (which commonly includes being nearsighted, farsighted, or having astigmatism) to wear corrective eye glasses or contact lenses that correct your vision to 20/20.
These are the most common reasons that people have to wear glasses and can be solved easily and quickly by going to an eye doctor for an exam and to get a prescription that corrects your vision. This will take care of issues caused by these conditions like seeing things blurry at a distance, blurry or hard to read text near you, and other situations.
Back Up Glasses and Contact Lenses
The FAA strongly recommends that pilots always keep a back-up pair of prescription contacts or glasses with them while flying. This is to make sure pilots have what they need in the case of an emergency where they lose or break the glasses they were wearing.
Monovision Contact Lenses
Monovision contact lenses are when you are wearing two different lenses (one for near vision and other for distance vision) at the same time. Since wearing these types of lenses is know for affecting depth perception and overall vision quality, pilots are not allowed to wear these while flying.
Color Vision Requirement
Pilots are also required to have normal color vision. This doesn’t mean that someone who is colorblind cannot be a pilot, but it does mean that you have to be able to see the colors that would be part of performing your aviation duties.
There is a specific test given to pilots as part of their medical certification. If you do not pass the test, there are alternative tests you can take to determine if your level of color sight is enough to safely pilot a airplane.
If you are colorblind and cannot pass at all, there are sometimes options to only pilot during the day or perform certain kinds of flights.
Having perfect vision is not a requirement to be an airline pilot. If you do need to wear glasses or contacts, you’ll have to make sure you are following all the regulations set by the FAA (or whatever governing body if you are outside the United States).
You should not let the fact that you don’t have perfect vision deter you from your dream of being a pilot. If you feel that your situation is different or if you have more questions, you should reach out to an Aviation Medical Examiner to ask about your scenario.