I currently do not pass the requirements for uncorrected distant visual acuity according to the Navy physical standards document. However, if I were to receive eye surgery to correct my vision before joining and then apply to OCS/Flight School, would I be cleared as Class 1 aviation personnel and be able to fly as a Naval Aviator? Thank you!

(Here's some of the information from the linked pdf)

Class I: Naval Aviators and Student Naval Aviators (SNA). Designated Naval aviators are subdivided into three Medical Service Groups based upon the physical requirements of their specific flight duty assignment

Medical Service Group 1: Aviators qualified for unlimited or unrestricted flight duties

Medical Service Group 2: Aviators restricted from shipboard aircrew duties (include V/STOL) except helicopter

Medical Service Group 3: Aviators restricted to operating aircraft equipped with dual controls and accompanied on all flights by a pilot or copilot of Medical Service Group 1 or 2, qualified in the model of aircraft operated. A waiver to medical Service Group 3 includes pilot-incommand (PIC) authority unless PIC authority is specifically restricted.

  1. Service Group 1, 20/100 or better each eye uncorrected, corrected to 20/20 or better each eye.
  2. Service Group 2, 20/200 or better each eye uncorrected, corrected to 20/20 or better each eye.
  3. Service Group 3, 20/400 or better each eye uncorrected, corrected to 20/20 or better each eye.

The first time distant visual acuity of less than 20/20 is noted a manifest refraction (not cycloplegic) shall be performed recording the correction required for the aviator to see 20/20 in each eye (all letters correct on the 20/20 line).

  • $\begingroup$ Are you talking to a recruiter? It's usually a pretty easy question for them to answer. I went through the OCS/AFOQT tests, but washed out in MEPS for different medical reasons. There is a medical appeals process but I wasn't able to get it reversed in my case even though I didn't have the condition. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Aug 21, 2017 at 15:51
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Ron, thank you for the suggestion! I haven't been able to visit my local recruiter's office as it seems that it has been closed for some time. However I'm planning to visit one once I gather a little more information. $\endgroup$
    – wow1881
    Aug 21, 2017 at 15:58
  • $\begingroup$ The USAF has allowed corrective eye surgery for pilots for a number of years and I believe the Navy has as well. But you should get the latest policy directly as there may be limitations on the type of procedure (PRK/LASIK/?) that is acceptable. You should also talk to an eye surgeon to determine your ability to have the procedure. Not everyone is capable of having the surgery. $\endgroup$
    – Gerry
    Aug 21, 2017 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ That's true, as I'm still a student I may have to wait for my eyes to stabilize as well. I believe PRK is the more widely accepted option, but that will be something that I'll be sure to ask the recruiter as well! $\endgroup$
    – wow1881
    Aug 22, 2017 at 15:27

1 Answer 1


I had this explained to me by an OSO a few years back. The answer is a qualified, yes, but the devil is in the details.

At the time, no procedure that involved cutting a corneal flap was approved. This means that LASIK and similar procedures were not approved for aviators. (This may change, but I think its unlikely). So that leaves PRK and similar procedures that only modify the the cornea's surface. This follows recommendations my medical professionals that recommend people that play contact sports to opt for PRK instead of LASIK.

However, here is the detail that was explained to me that I consider to be "the catch", you must already be in the Navy. In other words, you must have already made a commitment, then once inside, you can apply for the waiver and use a Navy approved opthamologist to perform the procedure. The problem with this is that if you are a person that is only interested in being a pilot, you must sign up for some other reasons (it might be aviation related, but not pilot) then once commissioned, then you can ask them to waive the rule and allow you to have vision correction surgery.

Also, at the time it was explained to me, you needed to wait for 1 year after the procedure before being considered for an aviator position. This is logical as they want to see if the procedure was successful and healed properly.

If you're already in the Navy this is great, but if you want to join the Navy for the sole purpose of being an aviator, I would look very closely at the details, and get it in writing before you commit.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the information! I'm currently a student who is not in the Navy, but your response will help a lot for when I go talk to a recruiter. One thing that came to mind, do you happen to know why you must already be in the Navy? Is it because they want to be informed on every step of your procedure regarding the eye surgery? $\endgroup$
    – wow1881
    Aug 22, 2017 at 15:26
  • $\begingroup$ @wow1881 I'm not sure, but I think you are correct. They want to be involved with every step of the process. Another thing to consider is that they have plenty of applicants that are perfectly qualified to be aviators that have uncorrected 20/20, so granting this waiver is sort of a perk for commissioned officers that want to be pilots who are already serving. $\endgroup$
    – Devil07
    Aug 22, 2017 at 15:46
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @wow1881 don't take everything the recruiter tells you as gospel, ask the recruiter to refer you to the rules pertaining to the laser eye surgery for aviators so that you can read it yourself. If it's different than what I said, please come back and update the answer so others can benefit from up to date information. $\endgroup$
    – Devil07
    Aug 22, 2017 at 15:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Ah that makes sense, I hadn't thought of that. And yes, good points regarding the recruiter. I've heard that sometimes they'll tell you varying levels of information to try to get you to join, so I'll be sure to follow your advice and ask for official documents! And if I find anything, I'll update the answer! $\endgroup$
    – wow1881
    Aug 22, 2017 at 16:08

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