Introduction: Pilots have unique regulatory and environmental visual needs. They also have certain expectations for a vision examination. We propose that optometrists' knowledge of the specific visual needs and expectations of pilots is limited. Both optometrists and pilots were surveyed to determine if the vision care needs and expectations of pilots are being met by optometrists.
Methods: One hundred optometrists were surveyed about their knowledge of aviation regulations and the visual demands associated with flying. One hundred-twenty pilots were surveyed to determine their expectations for vision examinations.
Results: The majority of pilots recognized the need for vision examinations beyond those provided in their flight physicals. Their major concerns were for evaluation of any medical problems, obtaining correct lens powers, sunglass tints, and information on vision enhancement. Optometrists were relatively unfamiliar with forms and procedures needed to report the results of their vision examinations to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). They were also relatively unfamiliar with the vision needs of presbyopic pilots. Few offered vision enhancement services that might be of interest to pilots.
Discussion: Optometrists can better serve their pilot patients by becoming aware of vision care issues that are of interest to pilots. Also, familiarity with the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR, Part 67) would facilitate communication between optometrists and pilots. However, the responsibility for meeting the needs and expectations of the pilot does not lie entirely with the optometrist. The percentage of pilots within an optometrist's patient base may be less than one percent. Therefore, a significant responsibility lies with the pilot to educate his or her optometrist.
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