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Eye: Monocular Vision

Ophthalmologic Issues Addressed by FAA

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FAA Exam Techniques:

Eye and Vision Section

Vision Chart

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This section consolidates the FAA guidance for problems associated with pilot or air traffic controller vision and visual correction.

Excerpts from Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners
Application Process for Medical Certification

Exam Techniques and Criteria for Qualification
Items 31-34. Eye - Monocular Vision

An applicant will be considered monocular when there is only one eye or when the best corrected distant visual acuity in the poorer eye is no better than 20/200. An individual with one eye, or effective visual acuity equivalent to monocular, may be considered for medical certification, any class, through the special issuance section of part 67 (14 CFR 67.401).

In amblyopia ex anopsia, the visual acuity loss is simply recorded in
Item 50 of FAA Form 8500-8, and visual standards are applied as usual. If the standards are not met, a Report of Eye Evaluation, FAA Form 8500-7, should be submitted for consideration.

Although it has been repeatedly demonstrated that binocular vision is not a prerequisite for flying, some aspects of depth perception, either by stereopsis or by monocular cues, are necessary. It takes time for the monocular airman to develop the techniques to interpret the monocular cues that substitute for stereopsis; such as, the interposition of objects, convergence, geometrical perspective, distribution of light and shade, size of known objects, aerial perspective, and motion parallax.

In addition, it takes time for the monocular airman to compensate for his or her decrease in effective visual field. A monocular airmanís effective visual field is reduced by as much as 30% by monocularity. This is especially important because of speed smear; i.e., the effect of speed diminishes the effective visual field such that normal visual field is decreased from 180 degrees to as narrow as 42 degrees or less as speed increases. A monocular airmanís reduced effective visual field would be reduced even further than 42 degrees by speed smear.

For the above reasons, a waiting period of 6 months is recommended to permit an adequate adjustment period for learning techniques to interpret monocular cues and accommodation to the reduction in the effective visual field.

Applicants who have had monovision secondary to refractive surgery may be certificated, providing they have corrective vision available that would provide binocular vision in accordance with the vision standards, while exercising the privileges of the certificate. The certificate issued must have the appropriate vision limitations statement.

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