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Guest michaelh

Glasses vs contacts at UPT

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Guest michaelh

I'm a senior in ROTC, and am getting ready to head to Sheppard for UPT (no date yet, unfortunately) after graduation. I wear glasses, and was wondering what requirements the Air Force has for pilot eyewear. What makes/brands are approved/not approved? What kind of prescription sunglasses are recommended?

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Guest michaelh

Good question- I didn't realize that was possible. Do you have to get any approvals for it? Is it common for pilots to fly with contacts?

Also, I have an astigmatism, in one eye, which has prevented me from getting contacts in the past.

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I don't know how much this helps for UPT, but at my base the flight surgeon has a "contact lens program". In order to wear contact lenses in the tower (I was told it's the same program for pilots), you have to go through the flight doc and they put you on a program. This is my understanding of how the program works:

You go to the flight doc and request to wear contacts while working/flying.

They make an appointment for you at optometry, where you get a prescription made for contacts.

They give you the prescription and you go get the contacts. If you have a light prescription, you can pretty much get any type of contact you want. If you have a heavier prescription, or astigmatism, etc, they limit you to certain types of contacts you can use.

I was told the reason they do this is because the flight doc wants it in your record that you wear contacts while performing duties, as well as what type of contacts you wear.

Hope that helps!

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Yes, there is a 6 month requirement. Once you are on active duty, you can get in the program and get contacts (highly recommended) but you have to have been wearing them for 6 months or greater when you start UPT or you will have to fly with glasses till you get your wings.

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Guest jaybird141

This is from the MFS website, note the info about contacts. My buddy got stationed at Brooks after OTS because contact lense wear. He is now, after a 6 month wait, heading to UPT. NOTE: this for UPT not UNT.

Welcome Medical Flight Screening Students

Your day of testing will commence at 0700 hrs in building 110 and end at approximately 1630 hrs. Prior to your arrival, you should be well rested and have already eaten breakfast. The uniform of the day is the short-sleeved blue shirt and pants or BDUs (long-sleeve blue shirts with tie are optional, as well as skirts for women. NO FLIGHT SUITS.) All students will remain in the immediate testing area during the whole day. Lunch will be provided for a nominal fee (usually $5.00) or you may bring your own. We will also pick up one copy of your TDY orders at this time. All evaluees must bring a current Flying Class I physical with the HQ AETC stamp of approval and one copy of orders. Physicals can be faxed to the Medical Flight Screening Branch at DSN 240-4443 or Comm (210) 536-4443.

There are four areas of testing. After a brief in-processing period, you will get your Anthropometrics measurement (standing and sitting height) followed by psychological testing, consisting of cognitive, intelligence and personality tests, which will be administered throughout the morning. The psychological tests are for baseline information and will not affect your qualification for UPT. The afternoon testing will be spent in two areas. Cardiology will perform an echocardiogram (heart ultrasound) to exclude the presence of any structural abnormalities of the heart. No fasting is required for this test. Ophthalmology will perform three tests. Corneal topography evaluates the cornea utilizing computer-enhanced imagery and the red lens test evaluates eye muscle balance. Color vision testing will also be conducted. Anthropometrics measurements, Cardiology and Ophthalmology testing must be passed to continue into UPT. NOTE: SOFT CONTACT LENS WEAR MUST BE DISCONTINUED AT LEAST 30 DAYS PRIOR TO MFS. HARD CONTACT LENS WEAR MUST BE DISCONTINUED AT LEAST 90 DAYS PRIOR TO MFS.

Finally, historically 2% of those screened have not meet qualifications. You will have an opportunity to discuss any disqualifying abnormalities with an appropriate medical specialist. the medical waiver authority for UPT candidates is HQ AETC/SGPS at Randolph AFB, TX. However, due to the nature of this program, medical waivers are extremely rare. We understand the impact this will have on your plans, and wish to be of assistance in any way we can.

-Jaybird

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Guest rumblefish_2

I flew with glasses at Sheppard and so did alot of people. When you get to Sheppard they will issue some military beauty specs to you. When you get to RTU you can start wearing contacts with no strings. I think one dude in my class did casual at Sheppard and was able to go thru the six month trial period so he could wear them during pilot training. Bottom line, I would plan on wearing glasses at ENJJPT and then getting contacts at RTU. If you get stuck casual for a period of time, try an see if you can do the trial period thing...

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Guest kmoore00

I went through MFS and was the lucky one that had to stay for the extra day of eye testing...about 6 hours worth. I had a waiver for refractive error, so there were checking me out to see if I was cleared for a waiver. The is a remark on my form 600, the form you get when you leave Brooks telling you are cleared hot for pilot training, that says I have to wear glasses at pilot training. Just another input for ya.

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I wore glasses all the way through Sheppard, and only had been on the Soft Contact Lens program for 4.5 months (not 6) when I showed up. They would not let me keep wearing the contacts. Good luck but they seemed unwilling to budge on the 6 month thing, and it basically comes from the fact that they don't want pilots missing their 2 week, month and 6 month checkups due to scheduling so they just say no outright. And yes a doc told me that, I'm not just casting stones.

After UPT you SHOULD be able to get fitted for contacts. The regs say only studet pilots will not get fitted for them while flying, and you are not a student pilot as of the day you graduate UPT. When I pointed that out I was eventually told that they had an ORI coming up and had other things to worry about; they'd address the contact thing later. So I had to wear glasses for IFF too. Don't worry though when you get to RTU the flight docs are a lot more...uh...user friendly to say the least. They've let me wear contacts from day 1. Good luck and if you have that 6 months left before UPT go get fit for contacts NOW, they are way better in the jet than glasses.

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AFI 11-202v3, GENERAL FLIGHT RULES

6.3. Spectacles, Contact Lenses, and NVGs. (Not applicable to ROA operators)

6.3.1. Spectacles. While performing aircrew duties, crewmembers must use only Air Force provided

spectacles and sunglasses. The Improved Aircrew Spectacle (IAS), including sunglasses, is ordered as

the Air Force Flight Frame. The HGU-4/P is authorized only if the IAS is unavailable.

6.3.2. Contact Lenses. Crewmembers who want to wear contact lenses must consult with their unit

flight surgeon and meet criteria and follow guidelines outlined in AFI 48-123, attachment 17.

6.3.3. Spare Sets. Crewmembers who wear corrective spectacles or contact lenses must carry a spare

set of clear prescription spectacles on their person while performing aircrew duties.

This being said, most guys I know in the heavy world wear their own glasses, and carry the IAS with them as thier spare pair. I wore the issued IAS specs and kept the spares on my person in Tweets. The IAS glasses fit over my O2 mask better than my day to day glasses anyway.

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I managed to "survive" Brooks but definitely needed correction to get through (depth perception was impossible for me before correction). I'll need either glasses or contacts to fly so I'm curious which you all prefer for flying, glasses or contacts. I've never worn contacts but do know a few people who wear them. It seems like it can be a hassle sometimes and not sure if I would want any of those issues to happen while flying (needing eye drops, contacts moving around, etc). Anyways, any first hand experience or input would be appreciated. Both seems like they have their pros and cons.

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Go with whatever you're most comfortable with. I have friends who are on both sides. Some just didn't want the hassle of contacts and others didn't want to wear those hideous things. If your eyes get irritated w/ contacts, then the smart choice would be to just wear the glasses. I don't think either has a benefit over the other besides just personal comfort.

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I had glasses while in UPT because I hadn't started the contact program yet. I really hated flying with them and I seemed to have hot spots around my ears. Once I got to my unit I started wearing contacts and had no issues since. However to wear contacts in UPT I believe you have to have them in for 6 months or so.

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Guest LocoF16

If you can get on the lens program...do it. Glasses are a hassle at UPT. Between hot spots, fogging and getting sweat on the lens right at the wrong time, you'll want the contacts.

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Guest dumaisj

When I went through, you were required to be on the SCL program for 6 months prior to beginning UPT. Contacts were definitely preferable...worrying about your glasses moving should be the last thing on your mind.

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When I went through, you were required to be on the SCL program for 6 months prior to beginning UPT. Contacts were definitely preferable...worrying about your glasses moving should be the last thing on your mind.

Prior to UPT, or prior to flying? I just got on it (I went all through JSUNT in glasses, getting on the SCL program was one of the first things I did at Dyess). I was told "Wear them all you want, but you aren't cleared to fly with them until your six-month follow-up". Granted, Dyess is an ACC base, not an AETC one. I also take that to mean if you start flying prior to the six-month timeframe, you have to wear glasses until your follow-up, but immediately after your six-month appointment, you can start flying with contacts.

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I had my contacts in for almost 5 months prior to showing up at UPT and had to wear glasses the whole time since I had not had the 6-month checkup. The doc even told me the only reason for that was because student pilots, due to our schedules, miss some appointments so they made sure we had already made it to the 6-monther. That was at Sheppard, the flight doc there back in '03 was a total POS :flipoff: So much for a doc doing what is in the best interests of the patient, huh? Anyway I showed up at Luke and went right to the optometry clinic, they put me BACK on the SCL program and I was flying with them right away. Common sense ruled. There is nothing in the AFI about the 6-month rule, it was a doc's policy like I said so at least press them and get the morons to admit they're screwing you because they want to, not because they have to.

All that being said go with contacts, especially if you want to go the fighter route. Nothing is more annoying than looking at your 6 under 5+ G's tlrying to get tally on another T-38 looking at him nose-on. BFM, particularly defensive and high-aspect, suck with glasses. That's not to mention that they fog up at the worst times, usually when you're sweathing your nuts off under high G's. If you have the option go with contacts.

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Guest EN_STUD
However to wear contacts in UPT I believe you have to have them in for 6 months or so.

True. As soon as you get to your casual base, go to the optometry clinic and have your contact wear documented in your medical records (be sure you are wearing an AF approved lens). At this point you are not on the SCL program and you don’t need to be. What you need is 6 months of documented contact lens wear in your military medical records by the time you start UPT.

I did this and once I got to Sheppard, I got a referral from flight med to see optometry during inprocessing and started the SCL program. One small thing, at UPT they don’t pay for your lenses. They will give you all the cleanser you need though. IMHO, contacts are the way to go...I've never flown with glasses, but I couldn't imagine pulling Gs with the glasses the AF makes you fly with.

If you have any questions, your best bet is to call ahead to Flight Med or Optometry at your UPT base and see what their requirements are.

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Wear contacts. Even if you for whatever reason, trial and error whatever, decide you'd rather fly with glasses you'll at least have the option. If you don't start wearing some contacts at least 6 months prior to UPT you lose the option. I've worn (wore) contacts for 2 years prior to UPT but not AF approved contacts and now I'm stuck wearing BCG's for pilot training. Not only can you not wear contacts while flying you can't wear contacts when not flying either. Great. Take it for what it's worth but, even if you end up not liking contacts in the end, by not wearing them you'll no longer have the choice. And as was said before make sure they're AF approved.

As far as the AFI and the 6 month deal it is written in the SCL program. I think a doc can give you a little leeway (if they choose to) as to wether you needed to wear contacts for the 6 months immediately prior to UPT or for any 6 month period prior to UPT. The writing allows for a little interpretation in that area.

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Wear contacts. Even if you for whatever reason, trial and error whatever, decide you'd rather fly with glasses you'll at least have the option. If you don't start wearing some contacts at least 6 months prior to UPT you lose the option. I've worn (wore) contacts for 2 years prior to UPT but not AF approved contacts and now I'm stuck wearing BCG's for pilot training. Not only can you not wear contacts while flying you can't wear contacts when not flying either. Great. Take it for what it's worth but, even if you end up not liking contacts in the end, by not wearing them you'll no longer have the choice. And as was said before make sure they're AF approved.

As far as the AFI and the 6 month deal it is written in the SCL program. I think a doc can give you a little leeway (if they choose to) as to wether you needed to wear contacts for the 6 months immediately prior to UPT or for any 6 month period prior to UPT. The writing allows for a little interpretation in that area.

One of my buddies wore a "non-approved" brand all through Pensacola (because apparently, the Navy docs don't know any better). So when he gets to Randolph, they tell him he's not on the program and can't wear contacts. This after two years of wearing them. So, like any good officer, he thinks about his options and the resources available...and calls the PCola flight doc, gets a contact lens perscription for an "approved" brand, and reattacks at the Randolph clinic. He's cleared to wear contacts now.

The hassle seems to be with AETC. Like I said, the Dyess flight doc gave me a packet to turn in at optometry, and I had a pair of contacts from the hospital the same day. "Don't fly with them for six months" was my only real guidance (aside from the little speech about approved brands and cleaners).

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I showed up at Charleston, took my flight physical and then walked down to optometry and said I wanted on the contact program. Doc sized me up, gave me some lenses and said I couldn't fly with them until my 30 day checkup. Haven’t looked back sense.

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Guest ElRoy

Thread Hijack-

I am a Nav, almost through with my pipeline. Just got my newest flight physical and am 20/30 in one eye. They are gonna try to give me glasses for one freaking eye. Kinda bummed.

So - what are the rules with me actually flying in the airplane. I can see fine enough without them, doesn't interfere with starting at a radar scope. What exactly are the rules and where can they be bent?

Thanks in advance.

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Thread Hijack-

I am a Nav, almost through with my pipeline. Just got my newest flight physical and am 20/30 in one eye. They are gonna try to give me glasses for one freaking eye. Kinda bummed.

So - what are the rules with me actually flying in the airplane. I can see fine enough without them, doesn't interfere with starting at a radar scope. What exactly are the rules and where can they be bent?

Thanks in advance.

If your flight upchit (1042 in the Air Force) doesn't say you're required to wear them, then you aren't required to wear them.

Additionally, I never once had an instructor ask about the status of my vision waivers/eyeglass requirements. I always had to wear my glasses, though...I'm something like 20/200.

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So if you see 20/30 and are supposed to put them on, but they really make no difference, you can get away without wearing them?

I have the same situation and at Brooks they told me I'd be expected to wear glasses through UPT; I'm debating to get contacts or to just try and get around glasses another way (retest maybe?).

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Guest EN_STUD

Sure you can get away with not wearing them if you are supposed to. You can get away with a lot of stuff at UPT that you aren’t supposed to do...but should you? NO. If you have ANY kind of mishap, I guarantee you the question of whether or not you were wearing your glasses is going to be one of the first looked into.

Carry them in your helmet bag and throw them on right after you put your helmet on...then you don’t have to worry about looking like a nerd.

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