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Home > Eyesight > What is correctable eyesight and when do they become uncorrectable?
What is correctable eyesight and when do they become uncorrectable?
Pilot Career - Eyesight
Sunday, 16 December 2007 18:47

Dear Captain Lim,

Thank you answering my previous question.

We have always heard about eye-sight being correctable to 20/20. What then is correctable eyesight? Are there any eyesight that is uncorrectable?

Thank a bunch! Regards,


Hi Cliff,

I received a lot of questions concerning vision problems from many aspiring pilots. I wish I am also an eye specialist! Let me relate this story (Sutton v United Airlines) about how two nearsighted sisters took a case against United Airlines for not employing them as airline pilots.

In this case, United Airlines requires its pilots to have uncorrected visual acuity no worse than 20/100. The Sutton sisters each had uncorrected vision of 20/200 or worse but they claimed protection under the Disabilities Act, arguing that, since their vision could be corrected to 20/20, they could perform the functions of airline pilots with or without a reasonable accommodation.

The Court decided in favor of United Airlines, concluding that the Sutton sisters had failed to sustain their claim that their nearsightedness excluded them from being pilots. This case lifted the burden of justifying some particular physical requirements from the shoulders of Airlines. Since the Sutton sisters aren't disabled, United Airlines is under no obligation to explain why 20/200 vision correctable to 20/20 isn't acceptable but 20/100 vision correctable to 20/20 is. So, something to think about for those with vision problems.

A person with vision of 20/200 is considered legally blind. Now, what is correctable eyesight? Correctable eyesight is vision that can be righted to normal with optical aids or surgery. There are some eye diseases, abnormal eye condition or visual impairment that cannot be perfectly corrected with glasses. Example are, lazy eyes (amblyopia) and low vision. Most people develop low vision because of eye diseases and health conditions like muscular degeneration, cataract, glaucoma and diabetes. A few people develop vision loss after eye injuries or from birth defects. The good news about cataract is that, although they cannot be corrected by glasses, an intro-ocular lens implant can correct this problem. So, a pilot with a lens implant is not disqualified from flying an airplane.

Wish you perfect vision always!


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not according to my eye doctor
I'm a little disturbed by your comment that someone with 20/200 vision is considered legally blind. That is absolutely untrue. In fact, if it were, the sisters in your example would have been disabled. The correct definition of legally blind is 20/200 vision that cannot be corrected with corrective lenses. There are plenty of us walking around whose vision is 20/200 and can be corrected with lenses, and none of us are legally blind. Please do your research and include all the facts before perpetuating that kind of nonsense.
jd , 26 Dec, 2009
Not according to my eye doctor
Yes, your doctor is correct. Anyone with a vision worse than 20/200 that cannot be improved with corrective lenses is considered legally blind. In addition, people with a visual field of less than 20 degrees diameter (10 degrees radius) are also considered legally blind.

My apologies for the error. smilies/smiley.gif
Captain Lim , 27 Dec, 2009
Well... my eyes are pretty bad.. too
I am aspiring pilot, currently working on my private pilot certificate. My vision is much worse than 20/200, in fact i need a -6.5 perscription lense to correct my near vision to 20/20. Considering that i did qualify for a fist class medical, will this have any affect on me becoming an airline pilot. I have also considered Lasik or PRK. What is my best course of action? and could my eyes possibly prevent me from getting a job? with for say.. southwest or alaska airlines? Thanks
Ryan , 10 Jan, 2010
what about optic nerve???

There are so many jobs/careers out there that I am not fairly being offered because of being blind in my left eye because of a car accident 14 years ago and my optic nerve being injured. The last eye doctor I seen said that the optic nerve is like the spinal cord and there still is nothing out there to fix it. My right eye has better than 20/20 vision but 0 visibility out of my left...so what would be OVERALL vision be then and why don't I have legal rights to protect me to be able to pass DOT's?
Scott , 20 Jul, 2010

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