Military Vision Standards for Enlistment / Commission

Vision Requirements

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jamie Zhunepluas gets a slit lamp eye exam by Lt. Cmdr. Jacqueline Pierre at U.S. Naval Hospital Naples. Photo courtesy U.S. Navy; photo by: Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Lenny M. Francioni

The vision requirements for military service are typically set in stone, however there are a few vision waivers depending upon the circumstances, the job, and the experience / education level of the candidate seeking enlistment or commission.  The most common waiver for vision is the laser eye repair surgery:  LASIK -  Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis, is an operation on the eyes that corrects the shape of the cornea so that it bends light properly.

and

PRK - Photorefractive Keratectomy - is the predecessor to LASIK but is still performed today and is waiverable after a six month recovery process and review. 

Another disqualifying vision requirement for some jobs in the military is the color vision standard.

As the Standards Read - The disqualifying medical conditions are listed below. The International Classification of Disease (ICD) codes are listed in parentheses following each standard. [

The causes for rejection for appointment, enlistment, and induction (without an approved waiver) are an authenticated history of:

a. Distant visual acuity, of any degree that does not correct with spectacle lenses to at least one of the following (367):

(1) 20/40 in one eye and 20/70 in the other eye.

(2) 20/30 in one eye and 20/100 in the other eye.

(3) 20/20 in one eye and 20/400 in the other eye. However, for entrance into a military academy, distant visual acuity that does not correct to 20/20 in each eye is disqualifying.

For entrance into ROTC programs and OCS/OTS, distant visual acuity that does not correct to 20/20 in one eye and 20/100 in the other eye is disqualifying.

    b. Near visual acuity, (367) of any degree that does not correct to 20/40 in the better eye.

    c. Refractive error (hyperopia (367.0), myopia (367.1), astigmatism, (367.2)), in any spherical equivalent of worse than -8.00 or + 8.00 diopters; if ordinary spectacles cause discomfort by reason of ghost images or prismatic displacement; or if corrected by orthokeratology or keratorefractive surgery.

    However, for entrance into a military academy or ROTC programs, the following conditions are disqualifying:

    (1) Astigmatism, all types over 3 diopters.

    (2) Hyperopia over 8.00 diopters spherical equivalent.

    (3) Myopia over 6.75 diopters spherical equivalent.

    (4) Refractive error corrected by orthokeratology or keratorefractive surgery.

      d. Contact lenses. Complicated cases requiring contact lenses for adequate correction of vision, such as corneal scars (371) and irregular astigmatism (367.2).

      e. Color vision, (368.5). Although there is no standard, color vision will be tested because adequate color vision is a prerequisite for entry into many military specialties. However, for entrance into a military academy or ROTC or OCS/OTS programs, the inability to distinguish and identify without confusion the color of an object, substance, material, or light that is uniformly colored a vivid red or vivid green is disqualifying.

      Derived from Department of Defense (DOD) Directive 6130.3, Physical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, and Induction, and DOD Instruction 6130.4, Criteria and Procedure Requirements for Physical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction in the Armed Forces.

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