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I'm virtually certain that I qualify for a third class medical, and likely for a second class. (I know I could qualify for second, but I'm not sure I have 20/20 vision with my current glasses.) Can I go to an AME for a second class medical, then get a third class if I don't qualify, without paying for two exams?

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    $\begingroup$ The answer will likely vary by AME. $\endgroup$ Commented May 30, 2023 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ Not only should you get a separate eye exam first, if you have the doctor fill out FAA Form 8500-7 (Report of Eye Evaluation) while you're there, you don't even need to do the vision test when you're with with the AME. $\endgroup$
    – Steve V.
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 20:52

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Michael Hall's comment is, I believe, correct.

The circumstances of my last exam were what happened to me, and my AME just gave me the third class.

Interestingly, I had filled out the online form requesting a second class. I clearly saw the AME change that to a third class, but when the medical came, it was a second class.

I didn't complain.

My AME charges the same for second and third class medicals, so there was no adjustment of the charge.

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For a failed eye exam specifically, probably. AME pricing is almost completely up to the AME, though. So you would need to ask them to be sure.

Keep in mind that if you are over 35, a 2nd class exam will also involve an electrocardiogram. If you fail that, it will also probably disqualify you from a 3rd class. Just because a 3rd class doesn't require an electrocardiogram doesn't mean you can ignore whatever medical problem the electrocardiogram found.

But never go into a medical knowing you might fail it! If you want a 2nd class medical, just go get an eye exam (and new glasses, if necessary). Even if you go in for a 3rd class, an eye exam would be wise to be sure you'll make 20/40. It's simply not worth the hassle of having to deal with the AMCD.

As an aside, my vision is about 20/40 uncorrected. And I can tell you that there is no way I would ever want to fly without my glasses on. Finding traffic can be hard enough even with perfect vision- you're doing yourself a big favor by getting a glasses prescription that's actually correct.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! I'm under 35, so the ECG isn't an issue. My corrected vision is definitely a lot better than 20/40; I'm just not sure it's quite 20/20. $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Someone I would strongly encourage you to just get an eye exam. If you're planning to get into aviation, the price of an eye exam and a cheap new pair of glasses is a rounding error in the cost of your PPL training. ;) And really perfect glasses make a big difference over almost perfect glasses over the distances involved in aviation. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 21:28

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