Distant Vision : What to Expect at the Flight Physical
Item 50: FAA Policies on the Airman Medical Exam
Guidance is compiled and interpreted by professional pilots and physicians at FlightPhysical.com from the 2014 AME Guide, FAA and FDA web data (www.FAA.gov & www.FDA.gov), instructions specified in the Aeronautical Information Manual, Federal Air Surgeon Bulletins from 1999-2015, and 14 CFR Part 61 and Part 67 (the FARs).
I. Code of Federal Regulations (Legal Source)
First- and Second-Class Vision Standards: 14 CFR 67.103(a) and 67.203(a)
Distant visual acuity of 20/20 or better in each eye separately, with or without corrective lenses. If corrective lenses (spectacles or contact lenses) are necessary for 20/20 vision, the person may be eligible only on the condition that corrective lenses are worn while exercising the privileges of an airman certificate
Distant visual acuity of 20/40 or better in each eye separately, with or without corrective lenses. If corrective lenses (spectacles or contact lenses) are necessary for 20/40 vision, the person may be eligible only on the condition that corrective lenses are worn while exercising the privileges of an airman certificate.
II. Examination Equipment and Techniques
- Snellen 20-foot eye chart may be used as follows:
- The Snellen chart should be illuminated by a 100-watt incandescent lamp placed 4 feet in front of and slightly above the chart.
- The chart or screen should be placed 20 feet from the applicant's eyes and the 20/20 line should be placed 5 feet 4 inches above the floor.
- A metal, opaque plastic, or cardboard occluder should be used to cover the eye not being examined.
- The examining room should be darkened with the exception of the illuminated chart or screen.
- If the applicant wears corrective lenses, the uncorrected acuity should be determined first, then corrected acuity. If the applicant wears contact lenses, see the recommendations in Chapter 3. Items 31-34, Section II, #5
- Common errors:
- Failure to shield the applicant's eyes from extraneous light
- Permitting the applicant to view the chart with both eyes
- Failure to observe the applicant's face to detect squinting
- Incorrect sizing of projected chart letters for a 20-foot distance
- Failure to focus the projector sharply
- Failure to obtain the corrected acuity when the applicant wears glasses
- Failure to note and to require the removal of contactlenses.
- Acceptable Substitutes for Distant Vision Testing: any commercial available visual acuities and heterphoria testing devices. There are specific approved substitute testers for color vision, which may not include some commercially available vision testing machines. For an approved list, see Item, 52. Color Vision.
- Directions furnished by the manufacturer or distributor should be followed when using the acceptable substitute devices for the above testing.
- Each eye will be tested separately, and both eyes together.
- When corrective lenses are required to meet the standards, an appropriate limitation will be placed on the medical certificate. For example, when lenses are needed for distant vision only:
HOLDER SHALL WEAR CORRECTIVE LENSES
For multiple vision defects involving distant and/or intermediate and/or near vision when one set of monofocal lenses corrects for all, the limitation is:
HOLDER SHALL WEAR CORRECTIVE LENSES
For combined defective distant and near visual acuity where multifocal lenses are required, the appropriate limitation is:
HOLDER SHALL WEAR LENSES THAT CORRECT FOR DISTANT VISION AND POSSESS GLASSES THAT CORRECT FOR NEAR VISION
For multiple vision defects involving distant, near, and intermediate visual acuity when more than one set of lenses is required to correct for all vision defects, the appropriate limitation is:
HOLDER SHALL WEAR LENSES THAT CORRECT FOR DISTANT VISION AND POSSESS GLASSES THAT CORRECT FOR NEAR AND INTERMEDIATE VISION
- An applicant who fails to meet vision standards and has no SODA that covers the extent of the visual acuity defect found on examination may obtain further FAA consideration for grant of an Authorization under the special issuance section of part 67 (14 CFR 67.401) for medical certification by submitting a report of an eye evaluation. The Examiner can help to expedite the review procedure by forwarding a copy of FAA Form 8500-7, Report of Eye Evaluation, that has been completed by an eye specialist (optometrist or ophthmologist).
Note: In obtaining special eye evaluations in respect to the airman medical certification program or the air traffic controller health program, the 2014 AME Guide states that reports from an eye specialist are acceptable when the condition being evaluated relates to a determination of visual acuity, refractive error, or mechanical function of the eye. The FAA Form 8500-7, Report of Eye Evaluation, is a form that is designed for use by either optometrists or ophthalmologists.
- Applicants who do not meet the visual standards should be referred to a specialist for evaluation. Applicants with visual acuity or ocular muscle balance problems may be referred to an eye specialist of the applicant's choice. The FAA Form 8500-7, Report of Eye Evaluation, should be provided to the specialist by the Examiner. Any applicant eligible for a medical certificate through special issuance under these guidelines shall pass a MFT, which may be arranged through the appropriate agency medical authority. While waiting to complete a MFT, an applicant who is otherwise qualified for certification may be issued a medical certificate, which must contain the limitation “Valid for Student Pilot Privileges Only.”
- Amblyopia. In amblyopia ex anopsia, the visual acuity of one eye is decreased without presence of organic eye disease, usually because of strabismus or anisometropia in childhood. 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.
Medical History Related to the Eye
Anatomy (Eye Structure)
- 31. Eyes, general
- 32. Ophthalmoscopic
- 33. Pupils (Equity and reaction)
- 34. Ocular motility (Associated parallel movement nystagmus)
Physiology (Visual Function)
- 50. Distant Vision (This Page)
- 51.a. Near Vision
- 51.b. Intermediate Vision
- 52. Color Vision
- 53. Field of Vision
- 54. Heterophoria
Medical Flight Tests for those with Waiverable Vision Defects
- Medical Flight Tests Overview
- Medical Flight Tests General Instructions
- Decision Flow Chart for Pilots Who Fail Color Vision Test (Graphic)
- Medical Flight Tests Procedures
- Color Vision Flight Test
- Medical Flight Tests: Signal Light Test
- Medical Flight Tests: Monocular Vision (for pilots with vision in a single eye )
- Operational Color Vision Test (OCVT)
This page discussed the Distant Vision portion of the Eyes & Vision section of the Fight Physical Examination required of pilots.
Reminder: use FlightPhysical.com to familiarize yourself with aviation medical regulations and guidelines, but always discuss your specific situation with one or more AMEs before dedicating resources toward expensive clinical workups. Find an AME now