Yes, you can wear prescription glasses in the military. However, eyewear and vision standards can vary depending on the military branch or specific area of military service.
In this guide, we’ll give you an overview of the general requirements for eyeglasses, contact lenses, and vision for some of the different areas of the armed forces.
Regulations for Glasses in the Military
Different military branches have their own regulations dictating the look of corrective eyewear for service members in uniform. However, the requirements are similar from branch to branch.
Army Glasses Regulations
Prescription eyeglasses that are conservative in style are authorized for wear. Trendy glasses with blue, bright green, orange, purple, red, or yellow frames aren’t allowed, nor is eyewear with conspicuous design elements or logos. Eyewear can’t be too large or small in size. Lenses must generally be clear, though photochromic or tinted glasses — prescription or otherwise — can have brown, dark green, or gray lenses.
Marines and Navy Glasses Regulations
In these two branches, glasses need to be conservative in style so that they aren’t distracting to others. Members of the Marines are asked to use their judgment in avoiding “eccentric” or “faddish” styles of eyewear. The Marine Corps also specifies that any logos should be inconspicuous and small.
Only certain frame colors are allowed: black, brown, clear, gold, navy blue, grey, or silver. Frames can also be a combination of two of these colors.
Lenses should be clear, but light-responsive lenses are allowed if not in a military formation. When transitioned, the lenses must be black, brown, dark green, or dark grey. Other lens colors might be allowed if a military doctor determines that they’re necessary.
Air Force Glasses Regulations
In the Air Force, eyeglasses must be conservative in color: black, blue, dark blue, gold or silver wire, gray, transparent, or white. Logos must be small and unobtrusive.
Can You Wear Contacts in the Military?
For the most part, yes, you can wear contacts in the military. However, armed services personnel with certain military functions are prohibited from wearing contact lenses. For example, contact lenses generally aren’t permitted for members of the Air Force aircrew unless medically necessary.
Also, different branches have different requirements about the look of contact lenses for service members in uniform. For instance, the U.S. Army and Air Force won’t allow tinted or colored contacts. But members of the Navy or Marines can wear them as long as the color is natural, such as brown, blue, or green.
Military Vision Requirements
Military service members need to meet certain standards for both uncorrected vision (without glasses or contacts) and corrected vision.
When enlisting in the military, recruits usually have to attend a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) for screening. Part of the screening process involves undergoing a complete medical and physical evaluation, including a vision exam.
To be eligible to join the military, the basic standard for corrected vision is 20/40. That is, visual acuity must be at least 20/40 while wearing corrective lenses. However, there are some different requirements depending on the specific area of each branch a person is looking to join.
For instance, military pilots generally have more stringent vision requirements. (But, surprise! You don’t need perfect vision to be a pilot in the military.) Some military groups may allow corrective eye surgery (like LASIK surgery) to reach their visual acuity requirements.
Let’s take a look at some of the general vision requirements for different areas of the military below.
Army Vision Requirements
To serve in the Army, including in the Army Rangers, your visual acuity generally needs to be 20/20 in one eye and 20/40 in the other, whether that’s through correction or not. However, there are some different vision requirements for other functions within the Army.
Army Pilots: Generally, vision needs to be at least 20/50 uncorrected and corrected to 20/20 in each eye.
Army Special Forces (Green Berets): Vision usually must be at least 20/70 in each eye uncorrected and 20/20 corrected.
Marines and Navy Vision Requirements
In general, for members of the Marines and the Navy, including the Navy SEALs (Sea, Air, Land), visual acuity must be at least 20/40 in the best eye and at least 20/70 in the other, without color blindness. Vision must be correctable to 20/25.
Marines and Navy Pilots: To enter aviator training in the Navy, visual acuity must be correctable to 20/20.
Air Force Vision Requirements
Entrance into the Air Force requires visual acuity correctable to 20/40. However, many functions in the Air Force have the same vision requirements as Air Force pilots. They must have distance visual acuity of at least 20/70, corrected to 20/20 in both eyes, with no color blindness. Additionally, people who have had corrective surgery may be disqualified from certain Air Force roles.
Wondering About Glasses in the Military?
If you’re concerned about vision or eyewear requirements for a certain area of the military, it’s best to talk to a local recruiter. And if you’re concerned about your vision in general, getting an eye exam is the best action to take.
Glasses in the Military FAQs
Do Soldiers Wear Glasses in Combat?
Yes, soldiers can wear glasses in combat. Usually, eyewear worn in combat needs to meet qualifications for ballistic protection. These glasses might come from an authorized protective eyewear list.
What Are Military-Issue Glasses?
Military-issue glasses are eyeglasses offered by the military to active members of the Armed Forces who meet certain conditions. In general, qualifying active duty personnel may receive a pair of standard-issue military glasses and a pair of standard sunglasses from a military clinic or hospital. Active duty military may also be able to choose an additional pair of glasses from several frame styles.
When Are Sunglasses Allowed To Be Worn in Uniform?
Many times, sunglasses are allowed in the military. But usually, they aren’t to be worn indoors. Additionally, each branch has aesthetic regulations about the frames and lenses of sunglasses. These regulations tend to be similar to the regulations for eyeglasses.