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The Pilot’s Vision Check-Up: Good Sight for a Safe Flight

The Certified Pilot"s Aviation Medical Exam
Federal regulations require that all certified pilots undergo an aviation medical exam every six months to three years to keep their current certification level. Here are the eye standards for each level:
The third class certification has the fewest requirements. This level is for private and recreational pilots. Distant visual acuity of 20/40 or better in each eye is mandatory, with or without corrective lenses. Near vision must be 20/40 or better, with or without corrective lenses, at a distance of 16 inches. The pilot must be able to perceive those colors necessary for safe performance of airman duties. For pilots under 40 years of age, the third class medical certificate expires on the last day of the month it was issued, three years from the date of issue. For those over 40, they expire on the last day of the month they were issued, two years from the date of issue.
Second class certifications are required for the commercial pilot. Distant vision of 20/20 is required, with or without corrective lenses. If eyeglasses or contact lenses are required to achieve 20/20 vision, the pilot"s eligibility is conditioned upon actually wearing the corrective lenses while flying. Near vision of 20/40 or better is required, with or without corrective lenses (over the age of 50 years, this is measured at 32 inches).  The ability to perceive those colors necessary for safe performance of duties is required. Second class certificates are valid until the last day of the month, 12 months after issuance. 
First class certificates are required for those intending to be pilot-in-command in an air carrier requiring Airline Transport Pilot certification. The eye standards are the same as those required for a second-class airman. First class certificates must be renewed every six months, based on successfully passing the aviation medical exam.
A Note on LASIK
LASIK eye surgery could have potentially adverse effects on flying due to corneal scarring, night glare, or haziness of vision. After LASIK surgery, the pilot cannot resume flying until his or her medical professional determines that the eyes have stabilized and there are no adverse effects or complications.

By Chris Navarro
Get Pilot Jobs, Contributing Editor

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