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View Full Version : Can I fly with dry eyes?


ptyhonidler
05-01-2017, 08:47 AM
Hi all,

I'm 30 years old and thinking about becoming a flight instructor.

Problem is that I've had chronic dry eye for a while now (about 4.5 years), caused by both heavy contact lens and computer use. As my symptoms became more severe, I've found it more difficult to fly on airlines - the low-humidity and low-pressure environment in an airplane is not good for dry eye.

There are things that I can do to help myself - such as wearing either scleral lenses (a kind of hard contact lens that protects the eye from the environment) or moisture chamber goggles (glasses that form a seal around the eyes). But would I actually be allowed to fly as a pilot if I had dry eye? Would my dry eyes prevent me from being certified? I'm only aware of the visual acuity requirement, not of any medical requirement.

Any info would be greatly appreciated.


zerozero
05-01-2017, 02:08 PM
Hi all,

I'm 30 years old and thinking about becoming a flight instructor.

Problem is that I've had chronic dry eye for a while now (about 4.5 years), caused by both heavy contact lens and computer use. As my symptoms became more severe, I've found it more difficult to fly on airlines - the low-humidity and low-pressure environment in an airplane is not good for dry eye.

There are things that I can do to help myself - such as wearing either scleral lenses (a kind of hard contact lens that protects the eye from the environment) or moisture chamber goggles (glasses that form a seal around the eyes). But would I actually be allowed to fly as a pilot if I had dry eye? Would my dry eyes prevent me from being certified? I'm only aware of the visual acuity requirement, not of any medical requirement.

Any info would be greatly appreciated.

You need to schedule a physical examination with an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME).

These are M.D.s who are certified by the FAA to issue the Medical Certificate that's required to serve as a crew member.

Use this link to search for an AME in your local area:
https://www.faa.gov/pilots/amelocator/

Make an appointment and tell him exactly what you told us.

The exam will probably cost you $130. Insurance will probably NOT cover it.

Good luck. Update us here after you have your answer

CaptYoda
05-01-2017, 05:34 PM
From the FAA AME handbook (page 52).


I. Code of Federal Regulations
All Classes: 14 CFR 67.103(e), 67.203(e), and 67.303(d)
(e) No acute or chronic pathological condition of either the eye or adnexa that
interferes with the proper function of the eye, that may reasonably be
expected to progress to that degree, or that may reasonably be expected to
be aggravated by flying.

As stated by the previous poster, it is best to have an eye evaluation to determine your condition. In many cases, you may still qualify for a class I medical under a special issuance.

Research a good AME in your area (ask around) and in particular someone who perhaps has expertise in the area and can guide you correctly.


JBird
05-01-2017, 06:44 PM
I wouldn't mention it to the AME until it was proven to be a problem. Remember, unless you are in a high altitude area...Denver, El Paso, Tucson...then you won't see the pressure altitudes and lack of humidity that you see in airlines. Discomfort doesn't equate to inability and can be managed in a safe manner.

Also, have you tried Restasis? A couple guys at the field use it and swear buy it.

ptyhonidler
05-02-2017, 08:12 AM
Thanks for the info.

I found a thread on this forum about Seattle AMEs, but it's kind of old (2009). Anyone have recommendations for a good AME in the Seattle area?

CaptYoda
05-02-2017, 09:40 AM
Dr. Kirk T. Harmon, Senior FAA AME (http://kirkharmon.com/)

Found this one for you from another poster. Seems to be highly recommended. No first hand experience though.

As someone else said, don't admit to something you may not actually have and open a can of worms.

I would suggest a simple consult first to see where you stand. You can also consult AOPA medical, leftseat.com, AMAS or Dr. Bruce Chien. All have solid experience with a variety of medical issues.

Good luck!

ptyhonidler
05-03-2017, 08:39 AM
I wouldn't mention it to the AME until it was proven to be a problem. Remember, unless you are in a high altitude area...Denver, El Paso, Tucson...then you won't see the pressure altitudes and lack of humidity that you see in airlines. Discomfort doesn't equate to inability and can be managed in a safe manner.

Also, have you tried Restasis? A couple guys at the field use it and swear buy it.

Yeah, Restasis is part of my daily routine. More often though, I have to take something called "serum tears", which are eye drops made from my blood serum that need to be kept cold.

Whenever I travel, I put them in an insulated thermos that of course, draws suspicion from TSA. If I ever became an airline pilot, I hope that local TSA would be able to recognize me and stop hassling me about it.



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