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Guest Strazman

Medical Certificate and Monovision

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I've been a sim pilot for about three years now and have recently been given a financial opportunity to finally go out and train for a recreational or (preferably) a private pilot's certificate.The biggest problem physically however, is that I was born with cataracts, so I wear congenitive cataract contact lenses (which mainly means I don't see more than 20/40). I'm aware that a class 3 medical only requires 20/40, but here's my problem. I also have monovision which only enables me to use my right eye for distance and my left eye for near-sight. I wear 2 different-powered contacts, one for the distance and one for the near-sight.I've been looking all over the web, and am getting real concerned that I may not get approved because of this. Is there anyone out there with a condition similar to mine, or any instructors or FAA examiners that could nail this down for me.As an FYI, I've had monovision since I was born, have adjusted and coped with it my whole life, and I hold a valid state-issued driver's license with no restrictions.Any insight would be greatly appreciated, as my physical is in about 5 days and I'm really nervous I won't pass.Oh, and one more thing, how stringent is the criteria for blood pressure? Just wondering.-Thanks in advance,Shannon Strzalkowski

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Shannon,I don't have any insight on your condition, but you really need to speak to an AME (airmen medical exmainer), AKA: flight surgeon, if you haven't already. You might be able to find a listing on the web somewhere from the FAA's main site.Another great advocate for just those sort of things is AOPA. If you're a member you can always talk to them directly on the phone and they can help direct you from there. They provide a whole host of aviation help for members.Sorry if you've been this route before.

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Jeff, thanks for the quick response.I'll probably join AOPA very soon - I may wait until my exam before I start spending money. The condition I have is somewhat rare, but doesn't appear to be so rare that it isn't noted on the AME's guide at www.leftseat.comLet me elaborate a bit on my condition, in case anyone else has seen or heard of this before.The easiest way to sum up my condition is this: My brain knows I have a right eye and it knows I have a left eye, but it doesn't know I have two eyes.To complement this, my eyes are at 2 different powers. I'm far-sighted in my right eye and near-sighted in my left eye. Being born with cataracts means that my permanent lenses (the lenses that everyone is born with) were removed from my eyes when I was an infant. Therefore, I must wear contact lenses (not just as corrective lenses but because without them and without wearing glasses, I can virtually see nothing but blurry shapes and colors - the eye has no permanent lense to focus incoming light). Yet with these lenses in, I can see 20/40. But again, the hangup is that I can't see distance with BOTH eyes. Only my right eye is far-sighted...when I look down to read (a map for instance), my brain switches to my left eye, which can also see 20/40 but at the equivalent of a near-sighted 20/40. For some reason, the material I've been reading on leftseat.com and other sites (which I don't know how up-to-date they are) seems to imply that having this monovision syndrome is a disqualifying factor.Anyway, I just thought I'd vent my anxiety before going in in a few days. It's been my dream to fly ever since I was a young kid flying with my grandfather in his Super Viking. I'm now 27 and that passion hasn't subsided in the least. If my eyes weren't holding me back, I probably would have had my PPL a decade ago.So, wish me luck on my exam nex week :)-Shannon S.

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Shannon,I strongly recommend that you join AOPA and avail yourself to their staff BEFORE you see an AME. The AOPA staff are very good at helping you get all the required information and medical records together so that when you see your AME, it will be less likely that you'll be denied a medical.Sorry I can't offer specific suggestions for your condition, but I'm pretty sure that AOPA can help you. I tihnk it's great that you want to be a pilot and I hope you can make your dream come true.John

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Shannon,I hear ya, the only thing that concerns me is that you may be able to pass the vision portion, but your condition itself "could" also prevent you from getting the medical, period, or possibly restrict the kind of license you can get, regardless of whether or not you pass the medical.That's what I meant by see your AME as soon as you can. You could probably call one without spending any money, and hopefully they could tell you.You could also try and call Oklahoma direct, or wherever the airmen certifications branch is, and see if you can get someone directly in the FAA. That's a good option as well. I think it's still in OK.

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If you are worried about "wasting" your money on an AOPA membership if you join and then are denied a medical, don't be. The P in AOPA applies to sim pilots too. They're a good organization to be a member of even if you're denied a medical. I strongly advise you join and talk to them before talking to an AME. If you take the exam first and fail it, and then find something that would have enabled you to pass later, you're SCREWED. The failure will very strongly count against you, and you cannot undo the previous failure. You can get a sport pilot rating without a medical, UNLESS YOU WERE DENIED A MEDICAL previously.

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Yeah, I did finally decide to join AOPA and all of you were right, it is worth it. I've been getting a lot of helpful info from everyone there too. It looks like what I'm gonna have to end up doing is get corrective lenses to help me see 20/40 in BOTH eyes, not just the one eye. I'll just have to get some reader glasses to see up close. As of now, I wear 2 different-powered lenses, one in my right eye for distance, and one in my left eye for reading (which I guess is considered unacceptable by the FAA - even though I literally only use one eye at a time to see.My medical is in 3 days, but I'm highly considering cancelling it for now, so I can get some extra contact lenses - reconfigured to allow me to see distance in BOTH eyes at 20/40, and to have my optometrist fill out the 8500 forms to bring with me to the medical.Thanks again everyone for your continued suggestions and encouragment.-Shannon S.

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Shannon,I have been going through the medical process for 37 years, and have worn contacts the entire time. However, I've never been allowed to take the vision test with contacts in - only glasses. The medical certificate will then state that the holder "must wear corrective lenses while exercising privileges of this airman's certificate", or something similar. This includes contacts. I also used monovision lenses for a while at the suggestion of my medical examiner's optometrist, who assured me that she had other pilot's wearing them. At the next physical I told my examiner and he promptly took me out of those and put me back in the standard. Monovision is not allowed (according to the doc). Multi-focal (bi-focal) contacts are, however, allowed with the appropriate paperwork submitted by your AME.As far as the blood pressure issue, I believe you are allowed 155 over 95 at the time of the exam, as they recognize the onset of 'white coat syndrome' in many patients (including myself). Additionally there are are a number of BP medications on the FAA approved list.If you are approaching the FAA with the possibility of a special issuance situation, they can be more agreeable than most folks realize. The key (absolute must) is to research your situation thoroughly and prepare ALL the necessary paperwork prior to your first application. I have been through the process a couple of times and the holy grail is preparation of the appropriate paperwork up front, including quotes form the regs, test results, doctor's assessmentRegards,Leon

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Well, welcome to the club and you're more than welcome to the help. Anything that gets more people flying safely is worth it, especially now with the mass media's anti-aviation bias. Do keep us informed and let us know how things go!

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I'll keep ya posted. I just went up in a GT500 Ultralight today. Wow. What an intimate feeling that was. Just me,and the sky. Granted I had a CFI with me, but I pretty much flew it 90% of the time.I don't plan on trying to get any certification from that however. that was just a really fun introductory flight. The good news he told me was that for just getting a rec license, I have about 8 different aircraft to choose from. I think I've narrowed down my choices to the 172 or the Piper Warrior.I'm gonna probably start my lessons next week, and am going to get my 8500 forms filled out by my opthamalogist tomorrow. Looks like I'll have to get lenses for both eyes to be at 20/40 and just get some readers.-Shannon S.

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