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Pilots and Air
Traffic Controllers change their gaze frequently between objects at near,
intermediate and far distances. With increasing age, the ability of the eyes to
focus on near tasks decreases. This is known as presbyopia and it results in
the individual requiring a prescription for near and intermediate tasks. This
typically becomes apparent in the mid-forties, although it may do so at an
earlier age in hyperopes and later in myopes. The prescription required
increases with age, typically plateauing out in the late fifties.
In pilots and
air traffic controllers the ideal presbyopic correction sometimes incorporates
a distance prescription as well (even if the distance prescription is zero) so
that one pair of spectacles covers all visual tasks. An intermediate zone for
screen or instrument panel vision will usually also be required.
Possible forms of
optical correction are: Spectacles
All types of
correction (bifocal, progressive or trifocal) are acceptable provided they are
well-tolerated. Bifocals will offer distance and near correction with the near
portion being a distinct segment within the lower part of the lens. There are
different bifocal types: D- segment
are the most prevalent and these are acceptable. Executive bifocals (where the reading portion
covers the whole width of the lens) are not recommended for pilots as the lower
half of the distance visual field is blurred by the reading segment. This is
particularly important in helicopter pilots and with NVG use.
lenses (or varifocals) change in prescription gradually from the distance part
of the lens at the top to the near portion of the lens at the bottom. These
lenses will inevitably have an area of intermediate focus in-between the
distance and near portions, but this should be set up for the individual using
an actual eye to screen/ instrument panel measurement. Trifocal lenses are
similar but have distinct segments rather than a continuous curve. It is also
possible to include another intermediate portion at the very top of the lens
for viewing overhead panels.
Please refer to
guidance on eye surgery.
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