What are pilot vision requirements?

There are many myths about commercial pilot vision requirements swirling around. With Commission Regulation (EU) No. 1178/2011, many eye sight requirements for pilots were significantly loosened. Let’s have a closer look at the most common vision problems and how they can effect whether a medical certificate is issued or not.

Glasses or contact lenses correction

There is no longer any limitation on the number of dioptres, as soon as an applicant is able to demonstrate proper quality vision with glasses. A pilot must be able to read a given text at a distance of six metres. Glasses or corrective lenses for astigmatism is also not a problem.

Colour vision

Applicants for 1st Class Medical with colour blindness should be assessed as unfit. Colour vision is normally tested by the Ishihara test (24 plates version). The test is considered passed if the first 15 plates, presented in a random order, are identified without error.

Examples of Ishihara test plates (click to enlarge):

Applicants who have failed the Ishihara test should be examined either by an anomaloscopy (Nagel or equivalent) or lantern testing with a Spectrolux, Beynes or Holmes-Wright lantern.

Eye laser surgery

Applicants with laser eye surgery for refractive defects may be assessed as fit following full recovery and a detailed ophthalmological review. This includes Photo Refractive Keratectomy (PRK) for myopia, Laser Assisted in-Situ Epithelial Keratomileusis (LASEK) and Laser Assisted In-situ Keratomileusis (LASIK).

Full details on guidance for pilot sight requirements can be found in Part-MED or on the UK CAA website (Medical standards).