Real Answers from Real Pilots

Question for Chris Eyesight

Hello this is a question for Chris about eyesight and Lasik. I read your replies about Lasik and you said at one point your Lasik procedure caused you a whole lot of problems with the FAA and another response you said they don’t ask you about it at all?

I got LASEK which is basically LASIK without cutting a flap. Also I pretty much have 20/20 and almost no post-op effects besides dry eyes.

Do you think having gotten LASEK or LASIK would cause problems for me in any way with medicals, FAA, flight training, etc?

Thank you as always for taking the time to respond!


I had Lasik done in the early days of the procedure being on the market. At the time, I only had a student medical certificate, which the FAA suspended until I submitted, and they reviewed, large amounts of information from my eye doctor. Because I already had a medical certificate, I had to report it at my next medical exam. As you do not yet have a medical, I do not believe that you will have to report it. Either way, the FAA’s views on this seem to have changed and they do not see it as an issue any more.

You will need to have actual 20/20, not pretty much 20/20, so if you can’t pass the eye test without glasses or contacts, you will simply need to obtain a pair from your eye doctor that corrects you to 20/20 and your medical will have a note on it requiring you to wear corrective lenses.

All of that being said, LASEK should not cause you any issues at all with FAA medicals or flight training. The military might still take objection to it, but it seems like your path is the civilian side anyways.

As with any medical advice, be sure to check with your FAA doctor on all questions regarding medical issues.


Thank you Chris for taking time out of your schedule to reply so quickly. I will make sure to check with my FAA medical examiner and check if I have 20/20.

No worries, that is what we are here for.

I have the same dry eye side affect that you do. If you haven’t looked into it yet, I recommend asking your ophthalmologist about having punctal plugs installed in your eyes. They are easy, cheap, and very effective at combating dry eyes.


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I am an optometrist and I believe optometrists in all states are able to place punctal plugs if they are necessary. In many areas, optometrists are much more accessible than ophthalmologists.

Interesting. I was under the impression that in Virginia an optometrist could not place punctal plugs, but I could very well be wrong. I personally am a fan of the silicone ones, for me they work far better than the collagen version.

I’m checking to verify the VA optometric scope of practice permits punctal plug placement.
Silicone plugs are considered “permanent” although that just means they last the longest. For various reasons they may need to be re"placed" occasionally. Collagen plugs are designed to dissolve over varying amounts of time, but there are typically fewer risks of complications with collagen plugs than there are with silicone…

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Just confirmed with an optometrist licensed in VA that they are able to place punctal plugs – silicone or collagen! :wink:

Good to know. Thank you!

I use -.5 glasses…is it enough to pass FAA test?


I have no idea what -.5 glasses are? If your vision is corrected to 20/20 you’re fine. If not you’re not.


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The -0.50 simple means that without visual assistance from glasses/contact lenses/refractive surgery, you are unable to see things perfectly clearly when they are further than 2 m away from your eyes. Since vision is measured at 6 m/20 ft, you might have to rely on glasses/contacts so you are able to see 20/20, but, as @Adam said, as long as you can see 20/20, that’s all that matters for visual acuities.