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Eye test during medical exam

Discussion in 'Ask A Flight Surgeon' started by cencal83406, Sep 6, 2008.

  1. cencal83406

    cencal83406 Tre Kronor

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    Hello,

    I just got my 1st class medical re-issued yesterday, and the doctor told me I'd be getting a letter from the FAA about needing to go to an optometrist to get my eyes checked. I didn't fail any test relating to near vision, far vision, or color, and I've always had "needs corrective lenses" on my medical. However, there was a test I've never seen before (hah) done yesterday. The doctor used one of those lights that checks your pupil dilation (also used to look in ears, nose, mouth - thin pointy-tipped light), and he had some sort of hand-held diffuser with a red lense, that when held over one eye made the white light appear as a thin red line. He asked, when this object was in front of my eye, if the light touched the line. Could have lied and said yes, but I didn't, and so he twisted a dial on it to make it get closer. Well apparantly the limit is "6" and I was at "8" to get the line to match the light.

    I have no idea what this test was supposed to measure, only that he said I'd get a letter, and that I didn't "fail", I just needed to get my eyes checked. My vision hasn't changed in my last two or three yearly visits to the opt, but the only thing I can think of is something that the opt tried last year on me.

    There was some test where he tried to get me to have double-vision, and while it started off for my eyes as double-vision they quickly corrected to make an image. Opt said that my eyes were very strong.... and said it wasn't bad.

    So I guess my question is, what was the test, what might be "wrong" with my eyes, and how am I supposed to prevent this from pretty much derailing my flying career. Like I said, I was issued a medical with nothing else except the same "must wear corrective lenses" and told I didn't fail the test.
  2. My Flight Surgeon

    My Flight Surgeon Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner Staff Member

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    This was a test for phorias - essentially being cross eyed or lazy eyed. If the AME documented that you had no double vision, I doubt you will get a letter from the FAA. The standard is no more than 6 diopters of phoria but if there is no diplopia (double vision) values greater than this are not disqualifying.
  3. PantherFlyer13

    PantherFlyer13 New Member

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    Dr. Walter Forred,

    I recently attended the Pre-Employment Processing Center (PEPC) in Kansas City, Missouri on 18Nov08 to become an Air Traffic Controller and failed the vision test for "phorias," as you referred to above. A little background...

    The proctor sits you in a chair and you place your chin and forehead against/on cushion rests attached to a machine with binocular-type eye sight holes. I remember three tests vividly.

    On one test, the proctor pressed a button and asked me how many boxes I saw and what colors they were. I saw one red box and one white box on the left, and one white box and one blue box on the right side, and stated that I saw 4 boxes. The proctor seemed puzzled and asked me to look again, and I replied with the same response. She mentioned that I was supposed to see three boxes, one of each color, stacked on top of each other.

    On another test, there was a horizontally-aligned red dashed line in the center of the left eye sight, and a row of variable height musical notes with numbers under each one on the right side, and the proctor asked me to state which numbered musical note the dashed red line passed through. To my perspective, they were completely independent images...a red line by itself, and floating musical notes by themselves, no meshing or otherwise intertwining.

    On yet another test, I saw a bold white arrow at the top of the left eye sight pointing downward, and on the right side I saw a row of numbers in the middle of the screen from 1-9. The proctor asked me which number the arrow pointed to, and I said none, that I saw the arrow by itself, and a row of isolated numbers. At this point, I was becoming extremely nervous and anxious that I would be told my chances of becoming an air traffic controller were nil.

    I tested 20/20 corrected wearing my glasses in each eye otherwise, and passed the color test, reading the numbers embedded in colored dots from the small booklet, getting 100% correct.

    One factor to consider is the fact that I was born with Duane's Retraction Syndrome (http://www.genome.gov/11508984) Type 1, with my right eye unable to move outward toward my ear. Over the course of my 21 years, it is easy to forget the issue even exists since I have learned to accommodate. From mostly an embarassment and self-conscious reasoning, I rarely look to the right without moving my entire head, and have even grown accustomed to walking/standing/sitting on the right of whomever I am speaking to so as to hide my apparent "lazy eye".

    As a logical person, I think this may have induced a situation where my left eye is dominant and I may unconsciously ignore certain signals from my right eye, while I see perfectly fine in each eye independently (with correction for myopia - nearsightedness) and do not suffer from double vision (diplopia).

    To get back to the situation at hand, I was sent home from the PEPC with a copy of FAA Form 8500-7 and a note to have an "eye evaluation especially for convergence disorder" as a result of my failing the phoria tests.

    I was told that this issue is not an automatic disqualifying condition, and I essentially need a professional second opinion before a recommendation for a possible SODA requirement. However, as with all medical situations, I do understand that there is no status quo and everything is looked at on a case-by-case basis.

    What specific tests, procedures, etc. should I suggest to my optometrist/opthamologist to be done that would best increase my chances of receiving further consideration as an Air Traffic Controller?

    Any professional advice, as always, would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your time and patience.
  4. mkeflyer

    mkeflyer New Member

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    Hey Panther sorry to hear about your short ending on Tuesday. I was there in MCI for the 19th PEPC. Personally I have used the vision test box before for Airmen Medicals but I hate it because it doesn't really allow for a true sense of how your vision is. The red, white, blue box was a new thing for me too.

    The first time I got a 1st class airmen med, was the first time I did the line dotted line through music notes and the bold white arrow thing. It took me many tries and two pissed off nurses to tell me how to do it. I was told that you take your head off the box, then move your heading back into viewing and everything lines up in a split second. If you stare into the box like the eye chart nothing works.
  5. My Flight Surgeon

    My Flight Surgeon Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner Staff Member

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    You just need to go to an ophthalmologist and explain what the FAA asked for. He/She will know which tests to perform to evaluate the phorias. Againt, I would see a board certified ophthalmologist for this.
  6. PantherFlyer13

    PantherFlyer13 New Member

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    Thank you for your input. Much appreciated. Is there a link you could offer that directs someone to web-based Medical Standards or Disqualification Criteria information? I'm curious if there is any supplemental medical information about ATC/Pilot certification outside of what is contained in 14 C.F.R. Part 67. Thanks again for your assistance.
  7. My Flight Surgeon

    My Flight Surgeon Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner Staff Member

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  8. PantherFlyer13

    PantherFlyer13 New Member

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    For those that may have been interested in the end result of my situation, as a bit of closure, I received medical clearance under special consideration. I guess its similar to a Special Issuance Authorization medical for pilots under FAR Part 67. But I'm cleared! The ophthalmologist I met with was completely convinced that I would be fine on the job as an air traffic controller.

    Thanks for the advice here on JetCareers. Always appreciated.

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