Contact lenses have an optical advantage over glasses. The change of image size is minimised compared to glasses. Ring scotomas (area of visual field missed) caused by spectacle frame and lenses are eliminated as are peripheral aberrations induced by a spectacle lens.
However a pilot wishing to use contact lenses for flying will need to ensure that the lenses can be comfortably worn on the ground before using them in the cockpit. As a guide, a minimum wearing time of 8 hours a day for 5 days a week consistently for least one month is acceptable. It is important that the wearing times do not impact on the pilot’s visual acuity, comfort or eye health. All contact lens wearing pilots are expected to attend for regular check-ups as advised by their contact lens practitioners.
It should be noted that some successful contact lens wearers are not able to use their lenses in flight. This may be due to dehydration of the lens, altering lens parameters or other factors.
All contact lens materials (gas permeable, soft, soft disposable, hard) are acceptable for aviation use provided they are well tolerated. Optimum correction must be achieved. The correction of astigmatism should always be considered for soft contact lens wearers (toric lenses). Silicon hydrogels (a type of soft disposable contact lens material) should be considered for aviation use due to their low water content and high oxygen transmission.
All contact lenses must be for
distance only correction. Thus, for the presbyopic pilot who habitually wears his/her contact lenses, a VDL limitation (to cover the contact lenses and back-up bifocal/varifocal spectacles) PLUS a VNL limitation for the pilot to have available reading glasses for use over the contact lenses, is required.
Multifocal contact lenses are
not acceptable for use in aviation.
The following types of contact lens correction are
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