Decoding Military Vision Standards: What You Need to Know

Military Vision Standards

If you’re about to enlist in the military, it’s essential that you know your vision requirements. The military has strict standards for vision, and these vary depending on which branch of service you are looking to join and what position you are applying for. In addition to uncorrected vision and corrected distance visual acuity requirements, there are also specifications regarding refractive error or astigmatism.

If your eyesight doesn’t meet these standards, you can qualify for a waiver by undergoing training or providing proof of prior service where similar duties were performed without corrective lenses (e.g., sailing). However, if this is not possible due to an eye condition such as glaucoma then there may be no alternative than reconsidering joining up!

Understanding Military Vision Tests

Military vision tests are a method used to determine whether a candidate can be accepted into the military. The U.S. military has strict guidelines for eye health and vision; if you are planning on joining the armed forces, it is important to know what these requirements are and how they affect you.

Military Vision Requirements

The U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy have different standards for vision requirements. The Army requires 20/40 vision in each eye with or without glasses or contact lenses; Air Force regulations require 20/100 vision in each eye with or without glasses or contacts; while the Navy’s standards require 20/40 in one eye and 20/70 in the other eye with or without glasses or contact lenses.

It is important to note that these are only minimums; some branches may allow applicants with better than minimum qualifications to enlist. For example, the Army will accept applicants who have 20/100 vision as long as they can read at least 12 inches from their nose with corrective lenses; however, they will not accept anyone who cannot read at all or whose vision is considered “legally blind” (20/200).

Different Standards of Vision in Military Service

There are three different standards of vision in the military. The first is uncorrected vision of 20/40. This means that a person must be able to see at 20 feet what a person with normal vision can see at 40 feet. If your vision is between 20/70 and 20/100, you have uncorrected nearsightedness (myopia). If your vision is between 20/100 and 20/200, you have uncorrected farsightedness (hyperopia).

The second standard is corrected vision of 20/20 in each eye separately or binocularly. This means that when you look through corrective lenses, such as glasses or contact lenses, you should be able to see clearly at a distance of twenty feet what an average person can see at that distance without any correction for distance.

The third standard is corrected binocular visual acuity (CVA) of 20/20 in each eye separately or binocularly. This means that when you look through corrective lenses such as glasses or contact lenses, you should be able to see clearly at a distance of twenty feet what an average person without any correction for distance can see at this same distance.

Vision Requirements for Different Positions

Although the military jobs may seem similar, each one requires a different set of vision requirements. This is because each job has different job duties that require different levels of visual acuity and ability to see fine details.

The following are some military vision requirements for different positions:

Frontline Roles

In these roles, you need good distance vision with a large field of view. You do not need very good close-up vision, but you must be able to see in dim light conditions. Examples of frontline roles include infantry, pilots, tank crew members and artillery gunners.


For pilots, the Air Force requires 20/100 (6/30) vision in each eye without glasses or contacts or 20/200 (6/60) with either type of corrective lenses after correction. The Navy requires 20/400 (6/120) uncorrected or 20/200 corrected with glasses or contact lenses for pilot candidacy. The Marine Corps requires 20/200 uncorrected or 20/400 corrected for flight training and carrier qualifications as well as some special operations jobs such as tactical air control party airmen (TACP).


Infantry soldiers are required to have 20/20 vision, meaning that they must be able to see clearly at 20 feet what a person with normal vision can see at 200 feet. The ability to focus quickly and accurately is also necessary, because an infantryman may need to shoot quickly at a target that appears suddenly. In addition, the soldier must be able to distinguish colors, which is important for identifying camouflage patterns and other objects.

Special Forces

Special forces soldiers are required to have 20/100 or better vision in both eyes. They also must have normal color perception and depth perception. Special forces soldiers often need to carry heavy loads while conducting long-range reconnaissance and surveillance missions over rough terrain in all types of weather conditions. They may use night-vision devices and thermal imaging devices in these situations, so it is important that they have good color vision and depth perception even in low light conditions.

Marine Corps

The Marine Corps requires that all Marines meet the same minimum vision standards as outlined by the Department of Defense (DoD). If you’re not sure about your vision status, call your base optometrist or primary care provider for more information on whether you meet these standards.


In order to enlist in the Navy, applicants must be able to pass a physical examination, which includes a thorough eye exam that tests visual acuity and color perception. This exam is administered by an ophthalmologist at a Navy Recruiting District (NRD) or Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).

Vision Waivers in the Military

The military has strict rules about eye health and vision. But there are exceptions to these rules, and you can be granted a waiver if you have certain conditions.

The first thing to understand is that there are two types of waivers: medical and administrative. Medical waivers are for medical issues, such as poor eyesight or colorblindness. Administrative waivers are for non-medical reasons, such as being too short.

If you have a condition that makes it difficult for you to meet the military’s vision requirements, you’ll need to get a waiver from the Department of Defense before enlisting or commissioning.

How do I get a waiver?

To apply for a vision waiver, you must fill out and submit the DA Form 7054 (Application for Vision Exam) along with the required medical documentation. The form asks you to provide information about your diagnosis and treatment plan, which can include details from your optometrist or ophthalmologist. If you’re applying for an exception or waiver because of a medical condition that impacts your eyesight but does not affect it enough to interfere with driving or flying–like glaucoma–you’ll need additional paperwork from your doctor outlining why he thinks this is true based on his examination of the patient’s eyes.

Once all the forms are completed correctly and submitted correctly (with correct signatures), they will be forwarded on by Military Personnel Flight (MPF) headquarters staff members who determine whether or not they meet requirements set forth by Air Force Instruction 36-2210 section 1 paragraph 6e: “If either member cannot obtain 20/20 distant visual acuity in one eye while wearing corrective lenses prescribed by an eyecare professional licensed by law.

If a medical waiver has been approved, you will receive a letter from MPF headquarters with the information needed to get your license. Depending on how long it takes for them to process your application, this can take anywhere from three weeks to two months or longer.

If your application was denied, you will receive a letter stating why. Make sure that you check the address given in this letter to ensure that it is correct; otherwise, MPF headquarters may not be able to find your file again. If you have additional questions regarding your application or any of the forms on which they are based, contact MPF headquarters directly at 1-800-525-0102 ext. 4855 or via email at

If you have any questions about the waiver process, please contact your local optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Vision Corrections and Its Acceptance

The military is a world of acronyms, acronyms, and more acronyms. The military has many acronyms to describe its policies on eye health and vision correction. These policies are constantly evolving to meet the needs of all soldiers.

The most current guidelines can be found in Army Regulation 670-1 (AR670-1). It was last updated in October 2012, but it is still current for all branches of service.

The Department of Defense (DoD) has four levels of refractive error that are considered acceptable for entry into the military:

Corrective Lenses: If you need glasses or contact lenses to see 20/20 or better with each eye separately without corrective lenses, then you are eligible for military service. The only exception is if you want to fly aircraft or drive vehicles where vision correction would be required for safety reasons. If so, then you would need to wear corrective lenses while performing those duties.

Contacts: If you have been diagnosed with contacts and they enable you to see 20/20 or better with each eye separately without corrective lenses, then you are eligible for military service. If you have any other condition besides needing glasses or contacts and they do not allow you to see 20/20 or better in each eye separately without corrective lenses, then you are not eligible for military service. If you want to wear contacts while performing duties or tasks where vision correction would be required for safety reasons, then you will need to wear corrective lenses at all other times.

Role of Eye Health and Regular Screening in the Military

Eye health is a key component of active service. It’s important to know that the military has made efforts to continue support for eye health and vision screening.

In fact, the Army has made it mandatory to have an annual eye exam for all members serving in the U.S., including those who are not deployed overseas. This is a huge step forward in ensuring that soldiers have access to quality care.

The military also offers free eye exams at Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs), which include Army Community Hospitals, Navy Ambulatory Care Centers (NACCs) and Air Force Medical Clinics (AFMCs). The following is a list of MTFs:

Army Community Hospital (ACH) — These hospitals provide primary care services for Soldiers and their Families. ACHs are located throughout CONUS and Puerto Rico, as well as Germany and Korea;

Navy Ambulatory Care Center (NACC) — NACCs provide primary care services for Sailors and Marines;

Air Force Medical Clinic (AFMC) — AFMCs provide primary care services for Airmen and their Families;

Frequently Asked Questions about Military Vision Standards

What are the basic vision standards for the military?

Different branches of the military have different vision standards, and it may also depend on the specific job or role. However, as a general rule, you should have correctable 20/20 vision in at least one eye. Some roles may allow for lower uncorrected vision, often 20/40.

Is color blindness a disqualifier for military service?

Color blindness can limit the range of tasks you can perform in the military. Some roles require you to pass a color vision test. However, being colorblind does not automatically disqualify you from service.

Can you join the military with glasses?

Yes, you can join the military if you wear glasses, as long as your vision can be corrected to satisfactory standards. However, some roles may require you to have better uncorrected vision.

What are the vision standards for Army Aviators?

For U.S Army Aviators, the uncorrected distant vision must be 20/50 or better, and must be correctable to 20/20 with no limits to near vision requirements.

Does astigmatism disqualify you from the military?

No, astigmatism does not automatically disqualify you from the military. However, there are limits on how severe the astigmatism can be. Generally, it should be correctable to 20/20 in at least one eye.

Can you become a sniper with glasses?

As long as your vision can be corrected to 20/20, you can potentially become a sniper, even with glasses. However, other physical and mental qualifications also apply.

Are contact lenses allowed in the military?

Contact lenses are generally not allowed during basic training or in combat situations due to hygiene and safety concerns. However, after graduating from basic training, they may be worn during off-duty hours.

Do laser eye surgeries disqualify you from military service?

Laser eye surgeries like LASIK and PRK do not disqualify you from military service. However, there may be waiting periods after surgery before you can apply, in order to ensure that the eye has fully healed and vision has stabilized.

What is the maximum age to join the military with corrective eye surgery?

Age limits vary according to specific branches. There is generally an age limit for enlisting, but corrective eye surgeries like LASIK and PRK do not change this. It would be best to consult a recruiter for the specific age cutoff in your desired branch.

Does 20/20 vision mean perfect vision?

No, 20/20 vision isn’t perfect vision. It means you can see at 20 feet what a “normal” person sees at 20 feet. But it’s possible to have vision better than 20/20: for instance, 20/15 vision means you can see at 20 feet what a normal person can only see from 15 feet away.


If you’re looking to enlist in the military, it’s important that you understand how your eyesight will be tested and what kind of vision correction is accepted by each branch. You can find out more about this by visiting our website at