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FAA Pilot License and Lasik, PRK, LASEK, Epi-Lasik, etc.

Important considerations for pilots when considering Lasik or other forms of refractive surgery.

Image of personal jet in flight.  
The FAA allows Lasik laser vision correction, plus monovision correction for older pilots.  

Conventional or custom wavefront Lasik, PRK, LASEK, and other forms of refractive surgery for pilots present no particular problems with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). After surgery and recovery it will be necessary for the pilot to have the refractive surgeon complete some FAA forms and be determined that certain FAA vision requirements are met.

Form 8500-7

A pilot must discontinue flying until vision has recovered after surgery. After vision has stabilized, the pilot will need to have an eye doctor complete the FAA Eye Exam Form 8500-7. This form is may be submitted directly to the Aerospace Medical Certificate Division or to the Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) during the next flight physical.

Wait Until Next Physical

If the vision corrects to Snellen 20/20 and there are no lingering complications from the surgery, pilots may return to flying and report the surgery at the time of their next FAA physical. A concern until the next physical is that the prior medical certificate will likely state the restriction that corrective lenses are required. Even though the pilot is able to see and meets FAA standards, the situation may evoke a violation by an inspector.

20/40 Or Better

As long as one eye corrects to 20/40 or better, a pilot may get a Third Class Airman Medical Certificate approval. A pilot is allowed up to 5.00 diopters of correction for First and Second Class Airman Medical Certificate. Pilots can fly with one functioning eye, as long as they have gone through the approval process.

Employer Clearance

A pilot who files commercially or plans to fly in the military, should get a clearance from an employer or commanding officer, in writing, before surgery. Many military pilots are restricted from certain types of refractive surgery. Each major air carrier reserves the right to set its own medical standards. A pilot will want to seek a response (written response recommend) from each carrier where employment is desired.


Older pilots may opt for monovision, which corrects one eye for near vision and one eye for distance vision. The brain combines the two images to provided adequate vision at all distances. A pilot with monovision must wear a corrective lens for the near distance eye while operating an aircraft, however after six months and successful adaptation to monovision the pilot may apply for a Statement of Demonstrated Ability (SODA) with a medical flight test. If successful, the corrective lens requirement is removed.

FAA Publications

The FAA has published a pamphlet for pilots considering Lasik.

The FAA's complete certification requirements are AC 61-65E issued November 2005

Looking For Best Lasik Surgeon?

If you are ready to choose a doctor to be evaluated for conventional or custom wavefront Lasik, Bladeless Lasik, PRK, or any refractive surgery procedure, we recommend you consider a doctor who has been evaluated and certified by the USAEyes nonprofit organization. Locate a USAEyes Evaluated & Certified Lasik Doctor.

Personalized Answers

If this article did not fully answer your questions, use our free Ask Lasik Expert patient forum.

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