Refractive Surgery-Flying









Table of Contents


FAA Guidelines for Laser Refractive Surgery

FAA Guidelines for Conductive Keratoplasty

Additional Information...





    The vast majority of individuals that have refractive surgery so they will see well without glasses or contact lenses experience successful outcomes. Many achieve a perfect 20/20 uncorrected visual acuity. Some may require a minimal eyeglass prescription for this level of sight.  After their refractive surgery a few patients have glare associated with bright lights, difficulty seeing well at night, or haziness in their vision. Over a period of months these symptoms usually regress. For many occupations if the outcome is slightly less than ideal the patient will not have any personal or occupational limitations. These individuals are usually quite satisfied with their new ability to see relatively well without having to rely on glasses or contact lenses. 

    However certain occupations require for all intents and purposes perfect vision, and the bar is raised for these individual when you consider what is a good surgical outcome. A Class I or II medical certificate requires a corrected or uncorrected visual acuity of 20/20 in each eye and no problems with haziness or glare. These individuals may have an unacceptable outcome for their profession despite a result that is compatible with the visual requirements for the majority of occupations and activities. If your profession or hobby does not allow for any visual compromises you need to carefully consider refractive surgical procedures and discuss these concerns with your surgeon..

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Certification guidelines for pilots who have had Laser Refractive Surgery within two years of their exam  

The FAA expects that a pilot will not resume piloting aircraft until his or her own treating health care professional determines:

bulletThe post operative condition has stabilized;
bullet There have been no significant adverse effects or complications; and
bulletThe person meets the appropriate FAA vision standards.

If these determinations are favorable and if otherwise qualified, the pilot may immediately resume piloting but must ensure that:

bulletThe treating health care professional documents his or her determinations in the pilot's health care treatment record;
bulletA copy of that record is immediately forwarded to the Aerospace Medical Certification Division in Oklahoma City; and
bullet A personal copy is retained.

The airman may continue flight duties unless informed otherwise by the FAA or another disqualifying condition occurs.


Once two years have elapsed between your exam and surgery  if you  meet the  visual  requirements for your class and simply  state that there are no sequale a certificate  can be issued without any other documentation.   


    These requirements  were current as of 3/25/2020  however they may be updated at any time. To check for changes  visit the LASIK or Other Laser Eye Surgery to Correct Vision  page on the FAA website.  

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FAA Certification Guidelines for Pilots who have had Conductive Keratoplasty

The following criteria are necessary for initial certification:


The airman is not qualified for six months post procedure


The airman must provide all medical records related to the procedure


A current status report by the surgical eye specialist with special note regarding complications of the procedure or the  acquired monocularity, or vision complaints by the airman.


A current FAA Form 8500-7, Report of Eye Evaluation


A medical flight test may be necessary (consult with the FAA)


Annual follow-up by the surgical eye specialist

    These requirements  were current as of 3/25/2020,  however they may be updated at any time. To check for changes visit the Conductive Keratoplasty  page on the FAA website. 

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For Additional Information...

      The American Academy of Ophthalmology has a page on refractive procedures  describing the available options. The information is knowledgeable, and updated as needed. One disadvantage of the page is that as of 3/25/2020 it uses a fingerprint.

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This page was last edited on 06/22/23