Guidance on Pilot/ATCO Spectacle Frame and Lens Choice

Guidance notes on spectacles/lenses for pilots/ATCOs

Spectacle Frame and Lens choice.

The following is intended to offer CAA guidance on the type of spectacle frame and lenses recommended for use in the aviation environment.

Frame choice

All frames should be well fitting and comfortable.  The choice of frame should minimise any effects on peripheral vision.  The eye size should not be too small
and a frame with a reasonably thin front (e.g. metal) and sides should be used.  However, for those pilots that may have to use emergency oxygen, such as commercial jet airline pilots, the sides of the spectacles need to be strong enough to be placed under the oxygen mask straps. 

For presbyopic pilots/ATCOs with good uncorrected distance vision, reading glasses should be in a ½ eye (look-over) style of frame.  A full frame reading correction is unacceptable.  If a full frame is preferred to ½ eyes, a multifocal lens must be used.

Lens Choice

The vast majority of spectacle lenses prescribed are made from a plastic material.  These have a weight and a safety advantage over glass lenses.  A hard coating is always recommended.  Anti-reflection coatings reduce the intensity of reflections from the lens surfaces and allow a higher percentage of light to pass through the lens.  These are compatible with aviation use.

High index lenses are recommended for stronger spectacle prescriptions.

For further information on bifocal and varifocal lenses, please see guidance on ‘Presbyopia’.

For further information on sunglasses, please see ‘Guidance on use of sunglasses by pilots’.  Note that all pilots requiring corrective lenses must have at least one pair of untinted spectacles available whilst exercising the privileges of their licence.