Vision Requirements for Each Branch of the Military - Operation Military Kids (2023)

Getting into the military isn't as easy as it used to be, where you show up at an office and are put through basic training.

Modern military standards require intensive verification to ensure that each candidate can perform their duties without problems.

One of the most common areas new military personnel struggle with is understanding the vision they need to break into specific branches of the military.

With this article, we hope to break down the specific requirements of each branch of service so you know if you can join the branch or now.

Related articleVision requirements for military pilots for each branch

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Army vision requirements

Navy/Marine Corps vision requirements

Air Force vision requirements

Coast Guard vision requirements

List of military visual disqualifications

frequently asked questions

Army vision requirements

Vision Requirements for Each Branch of the Military - Operation Military Kids (1)

The Army is the largest branch of the Armed Forces as it encompasses most of the land movements and basic combat functions that the Armed Forces operate with.

As the army itself ranges from standard ranger jobs to helicopter pilot jobs, we need to look at some of the specific requirements for jobs within the army.

In general, you need 20/20 visual acuity in one eye and 20/40 in the other.

Army pilots

Army pilots are not very common unless you want to fly a helicopter or specialized military aircraft.

These Army pilots must have vision that is 20/20 in both eyes or can be corrected to qualify, either through glasses, contact lenses, or laser eye surgery.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician.

EOD agents must have excellent vision as they must detect devices that could pose a threat to an entire unit.

The requirements for EOD specialists are bilateral 20/200, which can be corrected to 20/25 without color blindness.

Army rangers

Army Rangers are the standard infantry unit for the army, so their vision requirements align directly with the standard requirements for the army branch as a whole.

Airborne Forces

Army Airborne units have slightly different vision requirements as they are not as standard a unit as Rangers.

Airborne troops must have ranged acuity corrected to 20/20 on one eye and 20/100 on the other.

Army special forces

Special Forces are an elite Army unit that require 20/70 or better in both eyes, both correctable to 20/20 as they rely on strong eyesight.

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Navy/Marine Corps vision requirements

Vision Requirements for Each Branch of the Military - Operation Military Kids (2)

Although the Marines are primarily water based, they also have a significant amount of air power that requires a vision requirement.

Most standards for the Navy will be similar to other industries unless the job itself is highly specialized.

Navy SEALs

Although Navy SEALS are one of the most elite organizations in the entire Army, they only require 20/40 vision in their best eye and 20/70 in their worst eye corrected to 20/25 with both eyes.


A Navy or Marine Corps pilot is required to have basic vision of 20/40 in both eyes, which can be corrected to 20/20.

Navy diver

Navy divers have the same vision requirements as Navy EOD specialists.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician.

Navy EOD requirements are the same as Army EOD requirements for bilateral 20/200 correcting 20/25 without color blindness.

naval reconnaissance

Marine Recon operators must have 20/200 visual acuity to qualify for the force.

Related articleNavy Readiness Standards

Air Force vision requirements

Vision Requirements for Each Branch of the Military - Operation Military Kids (3)

As we've seen with the Navy, Air Force requirements aren't as stringent as they used to be, with new remedial capabilities helping candidates in need of support.

In general, most Air Force vision standards are around 20/70, which corrects to 20/20 in both eyes with corrective changes.

Air Force pilots

A pilot must have vision no worse than 20/70 corrected to 20/20 in both eyes to qualify for basic flight training, where normal color and depth perception is required.

Pararescue Air Force (PJ)

Pararescue vision requirements are the same as Air Force Pilot.

Air Force Combat Controller (CCT)

Again, the vision requirements of a CCT are the same as those of a pilot.

Tactical Air Control Group (TACP)

Entry requirements for TACP are 20/200 uncorrected vision corrected to 20/20 in both eyes.

Combat Systems Officer (CSO)

CSO requirements are the same as Air Force Pilot.

Related articleNavy vs Air Force

Coast Guard vision requirements

Vision Requirements for Each Branch of the Military - Operation Military Kids (4)

As the smallest branch of the military, the Coast Guard doesn't offer many specialized jobs that have special vision requirements.

Because of their small size and fairly standardized operation, the Coast Guard has defined their general requirements as 20/200 uncorrected vision and 20/20 corrected vision in both eyes.

The strength of the lenses someone wears and normal perception of colors are also taken into account by the Coast Guard when selecting candidates.

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List of military visual disqualifications


If someone is found to be blind to the point where no correction allows them to see, that is immediate disqualification from all branches of the military.

Being blind in one eye is just as disqualifying as being blind in both eyes.

Total or partial blindness disqualifies you from military service for obvious reasons, as you will not be able to perform the duties required for military enlistment at any level.

color blindness

While there is no specific standard for color vision in the military, the military exam tests you on your ability to see different colors.

The color vision standard within the military revolves around the idea that you should be able to easily distinguish between different objects that vary significantly in color.

It also means you need to know the distinct difference between red and green objects to prove you're not color blind.

Failure to pass these tests or discovering that you are color blind in your medical practice will automatically result in disbarment from any branch of the military.


Astigmatism is a defect in the shape of the cornea of ​​an eye that has not been properly formed since birth or another accident.

The reason this condition can be a disqualification is because without very powerful corrective lenses, some people with astigmatism experience very blurry vision or poor image perception.

Because of this, any astigmatism over 3 diopters will result in immediate disqualification from service, while less severe astigmatisms must be tested to understand the feasibility of military service.

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frequently asked questions

Can you wear glasses or contact lenses in the military?

This is one of the most common questions people ask when qualifying for the service.

Often the question can be difficult to answer because there are so many ways glasses can affect a person's vision that it is difficult to determine if someone with glasses is a candidate.

In the vast majority of cases, you can join the military and wear corrective lenses while on duty.

With contact lenses, you can wear them after you've completed basic training to correct your vision as long as they don't change your eye color.

Can I have PRK or Lasik eye surgery?

Lasik is something that is being considered by many who are about to or are already in the military.

Going without glasses is especially helpful for pilots and combat troops.

In recent years, the rules surrounding PRK and Lasik have been changed to allow people undergoing the procedure to qualify for flight training and standard military operations.

Will the military pay for PRK/Lasik?

Depending on the situation and the need for vision correction, the military may subsidize some or all of the cost of Lasik or PRK procedures.

If you're hoping to join the military hoping they'll cover the costs of a random soldier's procedure, you're wrong.

Are there exceptions to low vision in the military?

As we have seen with many other vision problems, most vision problems that require exceptions are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

This means that some candidates can easily be accepted into the service with a waiver, while others may require additional testing or be disqualified if they submit a valid waiver.

Learn more about the Military Medical Exemption Process forall branches of the military here.

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Regardless of which branch of the military interests you most, there are many eligibility considerations to make.

As we have seen in vision, vision requirements are about much more than just how well you can see with or without glasses.

From individual industries to specific positions within those industries, there is a wide range of vision requirements that make a potential candidate eligible.

We hope this information has helped you understand where to look in the military now that you know a little more about your vision needs.


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Rob v.

Rob V. is the founder of Although he has never served in the US Armed Forces, he is passionate about writing on military topics.

Born and raised in Woodbridge, NJ, he graduated from the New Jersey Institute of Technology with an MBA in eCommerce. His hobbies include beach volleyball, skeet shooting and weightlifting.

Rob is also a commercial pilot and Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) with over 1,500 hours of flight time.

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