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Home > Eyesight > What are the eyesight requirements for airline pilots?
What are the eyesight requirements for airline pilots?
Pilot Career - Eyesight
Monday, 05 January 2009 14:26


Dear Capt Lim,

I am hoping to join a flying school and want to know if my eyesight will prevent me from doing so. I have +0.25 in both eyes and I want to know if that will affect me in my flying.

I would also like to know the maximum limit of eye power that one can hold when flying and the effect of its correction by laser treatment.

Thanking you in advance,

George Cyriac.


Hi George,

Another common question to this site! Well, below I will elaborate a little more for the benefit of many others who continue to ask me these kinds of questions…

There are three classes of medical certificate for pilots. For instance, if you apply for FAA (US) Medical Certification, the vision requirements are as below:-


Medical Class

Pilot Type

First-Class

Airline Transport Pilot

Second-Class

Commercial Pilot

Third-Class

Private Pilot

DISTANT VISION
20/20 or better in each eye separately, with or without correction.
20/40 or better in each eye separately, with or without correction.
NEAR VISION
20/40 or better in each eye separately (Snellen equivalent), with or without correction, as measured at 16 inches.
INTERMEDIATE
VISION
20/40 or better in each eye separately (Snellen equivalent), with or without correction at age 50 and over, as measured at 32 inches.
No requirement.
COLOR VISION
Ability to perceive those colors necessary for safe performance of airmen duties.

I assume you would be going for the First Class medical certificate as this is the standard that all airline pilots would strive for. In Europe, the JAR Class 1 (same as CAA UK) standard is used. (For your information, the FAA 20/20 is the same as JAR 6/6)

JAR Class 1 Requirements

Distant Vision

It must be at least 6/9 in each eye separately and 6/6 using both eyes together with or without glasses or contact lenses (correction). If you need correction the refractive error must not exceed +5.00 dioptres of long sight or -6.00 dioptres of short sight.

Astigmatism must not exceed 2.00 dioptres. The difference in correction between each eye must not be more than 2.00 dioptres.

Example: If you have astigmatism with a maximum of +2.5 & -3.0 dioptres, would that disqualify you? Yes, you are outside the limit of +/- 2.0 dioptres.

Many have asked me to interpret dioptres. Well, to the layman, 1.00 dioptre is the same as 100 degrees. So your +0.25 dioptre or + 25 degrees is well within refractive error correction limit of between +500 degrees and -600 degrees. … so good news! +0.25 will not stop you from becoming an airline pilot!

Why do opticians use dioptres limits? Well that is just plain and simple science. The dioptre is not a measure of how well you are seeing it. It is the measure of the strength of your lenses. It's only function is to make sure that your optician and the guy who makes your glasses understands each other.

Near Vision

On the standard near vision eye chart you must be able to read the N5 print between 30 and 50 cm and the N14 print at 100 cm, with or without correction.

Contact Lenses

You may wear contact lenses as a professional pilot (but not to correct near vision). If you do wear contact lenses, you should bring a report from an optometrist to your initial Class 1 examination, which includes the following:

• your contact lens specification and corrected visual acuity;
• confirmation that you have worn your contact lenses constantly and successfully for over eight hours a day over a period of at least one month.

Refractive Surgery

The CAA does not recommend refractive surgery to gain a medical certificate to fly. The decision to have this type of treatment must be between you and your eye specialist. In fact the certification limits of eye correction with glasses and the limits of refraction before surgery are the same, so it is not possible to gain a medical certificate by having refractive surgery that you would not have obtained by wearing glasses.

However, if you have had refractive surgery, Class 1 certification will be considered three months after a LASIK procedure, (provided an assessment including refraction has been carried out at two months post-operatively). Certification can be considered six months after LASEK/PRK for myopia is usually possible one year after other types of operation. Please note that:

Certification

• the pre-operative refraction should not have been more than + 5.00 to -6 dioptres.
• an assessment by an eye specialist will be required; stability of refraction must be achieved.

Regarding laser eye correction, one AME’s (Aeromedical Examiner) advice was "don't do it". “If something goes wrong (which does happen in a few cases) then you can say goodbye to your flying career!”

Color Vision

You will be tested for normal color vision with Ishihara Test Plates (a series of numbers outlined by different coloured dots, easily seen by someone with normal color vision). If you fail these you will need to pass an approved lantern test (a series of coloured lights that you must identify correctly) in order to gain a JAR Class 1 certificate.

Color Vision Testing

You will be tested in the first instance with the Ishihara Test Plates. These are a series of numbers outlined by different color dots, easily seen by someone with normal color vision.

If you fail these and you wish to fly at night or obtain a Class 1 medical certificate, you will need to pass an approved lantern test. These tests involve a series of coloured lights shown to you, which you must correctly identify.

For Class 1 certification, lantern testing is carried out using the Beyne and the Holmes-Wright lanterns. A pass on one of these tests potentially allows for an unrestricted medical to be issued. If you fail the lantern test, the CAA can issue you with a Class 1 medical certificate that is only recognised in the UK, which allows you to instruct during daytime and within UK airspace (public transport privileges are not possible).

From December 2006 the requirement for periodic comprehensive eye examinations has changed.

Class 1 holders who now require these examinations are those whose spectacle prescription is in one or more of the following categories:

Prescription
Frequency of comprehensive
examination
+3 to +5 dioptres
5 yearly
-3 to -6 dioptres
5 yearly
-6 dioptres or more
2 yearly
3 dioptres astigmatism or more
2 yearly
3 dioptres anisometropia or more
2 yearly

If in doubt your Aeromedical Examiner (AME) will be able to advise you.

Just remember, the FAA (US) is generally more practical than the JAR on the eyesight requirement. They used to require a waiver if uncorrected vision was worse than a certain level, I believe 6/60 or 20/200. Everybody who asked for this waiver got it and after a number of years where the accident statistics of these waivered airmen exactly matched their un-waivered counterparts; and there were no accidents where poor eyesight was listed as a causal factor, the FAA dropped this requirement for a waiver.

Now all you need is 20/20 with or without correction in the USA.


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Comments (105)

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Regarding eyesight , Low-rated comment [Show]
Regarding eyesight , Low-rated comment [Show]
Regarding eyesight
Well my problem is that I do not have the 20/20 vision and this is the career that i always wanted. Will that stop me or can I use lens?
Liander , 27 Jan, 2009
Can I be a pilot if I am a short-sighted? , Low-rated comment [Show]
hello captain Lim ! i have a question
what size is the n5 and what size is the n14 for the snellen eye chart ?
Minh , 14 Feb, 2009
Near Vision Test for N5 & N14
Near Vision Test

This test uses a small card containing a few short lines or paragraphs or text printed in high contrast and viewed at an appropriate reading distance using optimal illumination.

To test your near vision, you will be asked to hold the card at normal reading distance.and then tested in the range of 30-50cm from the face and then at one meter from the face and read aloud the paragraph containing the smallest print they can comfortably read without squinting.

The standard for near vision for all ages is N5 at 30 - 50 cm and N14 at one meter with or without visual correction
Captain Lim , 15 Feb, 2009
eyesight problems , Low-rated comment [Show]
eyesight , Low-rated comment [Show]
Eyesight , Low-rated comment [Show]
Eyesight Problem , Low-rated comment [Show]
I am totally blind but have a great sense of hearing and excellent singing voice , Low-rated comment [Show]
Eyesight Problem , Low-rated comment [Show]
Too blind to read?
Dear Captain Lim,

Thanks for providing such a useful summary of sight requirements for flying. Are you going crazy with all the people above asking questions you have already answered in your original posting? Seriously, READ THE INFORMATION PEOPLE!!! If you can't be bothered to read the few paragraphs above to find out whether you qualify to fly you'll never get through the aviation exams.
Jamie , 05 Jul, 2009
Too blind to read?
Hi Jamie,

Yes, I am going crazy over these repeated questions smilies/smiley.gif

Now you know why I have decided to change the title of my website to "Just about Flying" from "Ask Captain Lim" smilies/cheesy.gif

Thanks for reminding my readers...
Captain Lim , 05 Jul, 2009
20/400 , Low-rated comment [Show]
eyesight prblem , Low-rated comment [Show]
can u help me? , Low-rated comment [Show]
eyesighte
I heard that as long as one's eyesight can be corrected to 6/6, they can be a pilot.
Is that true captain Lim?
George , 04 Aug, 2009
eyesight
I heard that as long as one's eyesight can be corrected to 20/20, they can be a pilot. Is that true captain lim?
George , 04 Aug, 2009
is astigmatism same with short sightedness ? , Low-rated comment [Show]
aspiring pilot , Low-rated comment [Show]
Converting from FAA to JAR
I am training for my PPL in the UK, and under JAR eyesight requirements cannot go on to qualify for a commercial licence due to my astigmatism (+2 / +2.5). It looks like FAA rules are more relaxed on this. Can I do my commercial license in the US and convert to an international license?
British Pilot in Training , 19 Oct, 2009
Converting from FAA to JAR
I am currently training for my private pilot's licence in the UK, but cannot go on to qualify for my commerical licence as my eyesight does not meet the JAR standards. From what you say, it looks like my eyesight would meet the FAA standards. Can I study for my commercial licence in the US and convert to an international licence? Thanks!
British Pilot in Training , 19 Oct, 2009
correct vision
i am having -1 eye sight will it create any problem for me to become a pilot
atib , 19 Nov, 2009
can a pilot use glasses
dear captain lim,

can a pilot use glasses?

carl nyjorie , 03 Dec, 2009
open your damn eyes wannabe pilots!
the answer to all your questions are right at the top of the page! please
disgusted , 05 Dec, 2009
can i sill become
Dear sir,
my eyesight is -2.00 in right and -2.25 in left eye.Can i still can become a pilot.
Hrishikesh , 02 Jan, 2010
pilot , Low-rated comment [Show]
Can I become a pilot
Dear Cpt Lim,

I am unable to comprehend a simple internet article, nor take the information provided and get any finalised answers myself with my doctor, the FAA etc. Despite my laziness and complete lack of intelligence can I become a pilot with the lives of hundreds of people in my hands? Please reply straight away as I think i'm very important and that you have loads of time to answer stupid questions
I. Madumbo , 13 Jan, 2010
...
Hi Capt. Lim
My eyes have a power of +0.5 and +1.0...Can i become an airline pilot and get my ATPL licence? Also do you get your CPL if you do aeronautical Engineering...

I would be really glad if you can answer these questions...
thanks...
dpak
Dpak , 16 Jan, 2010
...
my eye vision is -3.25. thatshould be oh k
Kacee , 17 Jan, 2010
READ YOU LAZY PEOPLE
OPEN YOUR DAMN EYES AND LEARN HOW TO READ YOU STUPID, IGNORANT FOOLS. ALL OF YOU WHO CANT READ A SIMPLE PAGE HERE WILL NEVER BE A PILOT.
READ YOU LAZY PEOPLE , 29 Jan, 2010
...
dear sir,
my eyesight is -5.00 for both the eyes, can i still be a pilot.can i have a laser operation done or wear lenses. kindly reply,
thankyou,
vins
vindhesh , 01 Feb, 2010
...
can i be a pilot
chia , 06 Mar, 2010
color vision
im pretty sure i was told when i was young that i am color blind ... how do i find out if i am eligible or not?
pete , 11 Mar, 2010
Validity of Information with respect to date
Dear Captain

you mentioned "at least 6/9 in each eye separately and 6/6 using both eyes together with or without correction".
The date of the information is Monday, 05 January 2009 14:26. How true is the information in bold as of March 2010? Specifically with respect to SIA recruitment

SIA website indicated "visual acuity of at least 6/60 without optical aids, correctable to 6/6". They did not mention one eye or both eyes

My case tested by doctor is one eye 6/9(corrected) & one eye 6/6(corrected)

Thank you very much in advance!
Lew , 20 Mar, 2010
Captain
Hello Captain Lim,
Where could I get a copy of the N-5 chart?
Alan , 01 Apr, 2010
gillein
Hello friend, if you want see true physics go here nothing i hope it will help yousmilies/cry.gif
goga , 02 Apr, 2010
...
hello captain lim,
i want to confirm with you
if my left side is about three hundred something and my right side is about four hundred something...
is this ok to becoming a pilot?
ashreen , 09 May, 2010
pilot
hello captain, i am short sighted, left eye 2.50 and right 2.25 obviously its more likely i cant be pilot, but if i have surgery can i still be a pilot??
gary , 04 Jun, 2010
??
Hello,
My eye sight is -1 both eyes, can i become a pilot ? And shall i go for laser ?
lulu , 20 Jun, 2010
Seriously people...
There is a comprehensive explanation above of all the visual requirements for being a pilot. As someone else said, if you cannot be bothered to read it (or in fact understand it) then you have no hope of becoming a pilot.

I personally want to thank you Captain Lim as you answered all the questions I wanted to ask.

Great site.
Me , 25 Jun, 2010
...
Hello sir,i'm sumithra. I have +0.75 power in my both the eyes. with is power can i become a pilot?
sumithra , 01 Jul, 2010
Dear Sir
i think i have an eye sight problem but . wen i went to an aviation center they said that u can become a pilot even with wearing contact lenses and spectacles.. is it true

pls reply soon
unknwn , 31 Aug, 2010
can I be a Pilot?
Sir,I'm 16 years old
I want to be a Pilot but I have problem with my eye.I have +2.00 both of my eye.
Can I wearing lens to become a pilot?

THX SIR.
Chee yong , 02 Sep, 2010
...
Dear sir I'm 18 years old from my child hood I had a hope to be the best pilot in the world, I have a 20/20 eye sight but I have a problem with my left hand eye it's vision is poor. But even now I have my dream and target. sir is it a problem to my dream.
sithum , 19 Sep, 2010
Can i still pass the vision test?
my glasses lens is -0.75. My parents says that with this vision on both eyes, i wont be able to become a pilot. Is this true captain?
Justin , 21 Sep, 2010
can i become a pilot ?
hi Captain
i wanted to become a pilot when the first time i sat on a plane . i have -2.25 on both eyes can i become a pilot in any airline maybe emirates or singapore airlines ?
haris , 18 Sep, 2011
training course...
dear Captain,
is better for me to take the airline's pilot training course or take the training course in the pilot training school..?which 1 do u prefer..?i really need ur opinion...thz...
Mui Yee , 20 Sep, 2011
pilot training course..
sorry...Mui yee again...can u send me ur reply through my e-mail..? This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it alot...
Mui Yee , 20 Sep, 2011
Eyesight
Ever since I was a child, I want to be a Commercial Pilot... But when I came to College, I have eye glasses, 75/100. And I'm afraid that my dreams will fade and won't come true because of my eye vision. smilies/sad.gif
Joseph , 12 Oct, 2011
Dumbducks LOL
it's funny how u guys ask like kids. It's there on the page just read it if u really are that intelligent.
Titandias , 13 Nov, 2011
sir
i am color blind but i want to be an AME .can i apply for liecence plz info me if there is any rule by which i qualify the AME exam.
thaks
ali , 20 Nov, 2011
Weird regulations
Dear Sir,

I really want to get my ATPL in Europe but I suffer from more than 2D Astigmatism, actually near to 4 dioptres.
I pass every test with ease, even for depth vision i score above average. Though due to my Astigmatism I failed to get a Class 1. The doctor said that it was in my case just a worthless number, but it closed the way for my dream to become true.
Nothing more strange than aviation regulations.
Ronald , 07 Jan, 2012
danda
sir,
i want to become aeronautic engineer,I have -4 eye sight can i become aeronautic engineer
harikabhargavi , 01 Feb, 2012
Colour Blindness
Hi there i have failed my ishihara test but i am very capable of differentiating colors, is that going to affect me from passing the Medical test?
Fieqri , 07 Feb, 2012
differences between Airline Transport Pilot and Commercial Pilot and Private Pilot
What is the differences between Airline Transport Pilot and Commercial Pilot and Private Pilot and what is the pay of each type of pilot number of months to to be a pilot and more info
Thanks
Ashik , 18 Feb, 2012
differences between Airline Transport Pilot and Commercial Pilot and Private Pilot
What is the differences between Airline Transport Pilot and Commercial Pilot and Private Pilot and what is the pay of each type of pilot number of months to to be a pilot and more info
Thanks
Ashik , 18 Feb, 2012
eye sight problem
i am having +2.5 in both eye is that i will be disqualify please please please please please please reply
dwaraganath , 24 Feb, 2012
can i become a pilot
sir,

can i become a pilot if my eyesight in both eyes is -6.0 and +2.5? plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz reply i will be thankful to u
farhan , 17 Mar, 2012
Can these eyes still fly?
These comments are hilarious.
XY , 15 May, 2012
can i becomea pilot
hi capitan am wearing -6.00 and -4.50 and I wear lens can I become a comersial pilot
niki , 18 May, 2012
One eye
Yo Captain.
First of all 99 percent of the people asking you questions look like they are totally bllind. Not sure if you bother logging on to your own site now. I blew my lefty out with fireworks a cuppla years back. I did read that you have to have certain amount of vision in each eye. Clearly i can see your answers better than most here but just noticed someone mention both not single. Whats me chances sir. I only wanna fly my own chopper smilies/wink.gif
Matty , 11 Jun, 2012
eyesight
dear captain,
i have -6 eyesight weak can i become an airline pilot plzzzz reply me
andrew tuff , 20 Sep, 2012
...
do we have any entrance exams 2 become commercial pilot or only by the payment????
Baseti Shiva , 19 Dec, 2012
entrance exam
do we have any entrance exam to become a commercial pilot or only by the payment???????if only by the payment,then what is the minimum amount that is required to be payed for that???
Baseti Shiva , 19 Dec, 2012
Thank You Verymuch.
Dear Captain Lim:
I was vision checked to get a job. And having passed everithing and with a -1.75 in both eyes, they made me a Ishihara Test. I could read some plates but not all and the optometrist said that I am unnable to work in high places with step ladders. The incredible is that I can see all colors , among them the red and green, on safety signals, easily from at least 200 mts or too at 20 cms. I think the Optometrist is wrongly giving a medical diagnosis due to what you are teaching here and because I am not a pilot but an Electrician.
Sincerelly Yours Rafael López from Cali- Colombia.
Rafael López , 29 Dec, 2012
...
dear captain lim;
I am hoping to join a flying school and want to know if my eyesight will prevent me from doing so. I have +2.5 in both eyes and I want to know if that will affect me in my flying.
that will affect my ambition to become a pilot?.. whether my eye power will make a problem in FAA medical certification?
abubakkar , 19 Jan, 2013
Near Vision
Hi Captain Lim ,
I'm wearing glasses -5.00 for both eyes , can i be a commercial pilot?
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
reply please , thanks for your further kind cooperationsmilies/smiley.gif
NSHIN , 22 Mar, 2013
na
Have the vision requirements changed to allow corrected vision? Was there a time when pilots needed 20/20 uncorrected vision?
jcm , 24 May, 2013
...
Hi captain Lim,

I'm wearing glass -3.25 for both eyes ,can i become a commercial pilot
pz replay
hemanth , 10 Jun, 2013
...
i want to be a pilot but my eyesight is week....it is 4 of both eyes....will i be a pilot??
shaheer mirza , 11 Jun, 2013
sir i have -0.75 in both eyes
sir i have -0.75 in both eyes and i want to become a commercial or a private pilot and thats my dream so can i become having this much of eyesight please reply in this email id of GMAIL : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
shivaji khandelwal , 28 Jun, 2013
.........
Hi captain lim,

I have lost 1 degrees in my right eye and 0,5 degrees in my left eye and I am 13 years old and I want to be a pilot......so is that going to stop me?
mahmoud alhabaj , 29 Jun, 2013
***
hi ,dear capitan.i wear glass,my both eyes are 4 and4/5 can i be a pilot? my email is, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it thank u
sk , 05 Sep, 2013
short site
dear captain

my left eye is -1.5 and right 0.75 sir does i can be a captain
aswin , 22 Sep, 2013
my eyesight problem
sir my eyesight is 4/6 can i be a pilot .....
abhishek , 08 Oct, 2013
eyesight
sir,i am sadeem khalid.i wanted to know that is wearing glasses a problem for becoming an airline pilot.my eyesight is -1.75 and -2 in both eyes.but with wearing glasses it is 20/20 partially.please reply me
sadeem khalid , 02 Nov, 2013
eyesight
my eye sight is -3.0 both eyes can i still join
np , 14 Nov, 2013
Mr
My Glasses power is -2.00 in both eyes. Can I become a pilot
Raipur , 10 Dec, 2013
...
can i be a pilot if my eyes is 1.5 short sighted
vincent , 11 Jan, 2014
Still confusing about eye laser can become pilot.
dear sir,
my eyesight is -4.25 for both the eyes, can i still be a pilot.can i have a laser operation done? kindly reply me to my E-mail: namxeng&hotmail.com
thankyou.
Steven Leng , 14 Mar, 2014
Still confusing about eye laser can become pilot.
dear sir,
my eyesight is -4.25 for both the eyes, can i still be a pilot.can i have a laser operation done? kindly reply me to my E-mail: namxeng&hotmail.com
thankyou.
Steven Leng , 14 Mar, 2014
eyes
its confusing what ever u explaned
kaka , 04 Apr, 2014
...
i am just a 16 year old kiddo..its my dream to be a pilot...but as many have already asked you above about their eyesight problems...please do explain me in a simpler way smilies/cheesy.gif i have -0.25 and -0.75 vision problem... smilies/sad.gif can sdo laser and correct my vision and would be approved to be a PILOT :|
Anoushka , 18 Jun, 2014
eyesight
hello,ive got a problem with my eyesight too.i wanna becomee a pilot,however whether its commercial or air force,havent decided yet.my right eye is 6/6,while the left is -0.25.Will it really affect me if i choose to become either of the two types or it isnt just a big deal?I mean,its very slightly weak and only in the left eye.by the way,im 16
osama , 01 Jul, 2014
mr
Dear Capt Lim,

I am hoping to join a flying school and want to know if my eyesight will prevent me from doing so. I have -1.25 in both eyes and I want to know if that will affect me in my flying.

Thanking you ,
Amit
amit , 20 Aug, 2014

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