Military Vision Readiness

Last Updated: August 28, 2023
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Preserving the Sight to Fight ​

Military personnel rely on their sense of sight to detect hazards to avoid, aim weapons, and maintain overall situational awareness to ensure unit safet​y and mission success. Technology can help enhance visual capabilities, but each Service Member, unit leader, and healthcare provider must help ensure individuals are visually ‘ready to fight.’ 

Visual Readiness means that Service members have: 

  • Minimum visual function to perform the appointed mission in a deployed environment
  • Required optical devices for deployment that correct his/her vision
  • Current vision records for: 
    • ​Visual acuity 
    • ​Optical Rx (if needed)

Department of Defense maintains programs and policies to ensure that warfighters’ mission performance is optimized through: 

  • Provision of state-of-the-art protection devices for both training (train-as-you-fight ethos) and deployment (maintain “sight to fight” and reduce in-theatre injuries)
  • Routine exams to identify and intervene disease and injury and reduce last minute pre-deployment evaluations and equipment needs

Military public health vision experts support the warfighter by both by providing input to technology, procedures, and policy to protect and optimize Service Members’ eyesight, researching medical and technology data, and by training local vision conservation assets* to better clinically evaluate, monitor, and advise patients. 

Eye Protect​ion

Learn about preventing ey​e injury on- and off-duty by wearing proper eye protection​

Military Vision Requirements and Disqualifiers

Entrance Requirements for Vision into the Armed Forces includes: 

​1.Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 6130.03 Me​dical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction in the Military Services (Section 5)​:* External Link​ 

  • Cu​rrent distant visual acuity of any degree that does not correct with spectacle lenses to at least 20/40 in each eye
  • Current near visual acuity of any degree that does not correct to 20/40 in the better eye
  • Current refractive error (hyperopia, myopia, astigmatism) in excess of -8.00 or +8.00 diopters spherical equivalent or astigmatism in excess of 3.00 diopters
  • Any condition that specifically requires contact lenses for adequate correction of vision, such as corneal scars and opacities and irregular astigmatism
  • Color vision requirements will be set by each DoD Service

*For entrance into Service academies and officer programs, the DoD Components will determine individual requirements. DoD Components may also set additional requirements for assignment to certain specialties. 

2.) Initial Vision Screening to establish an initial “PULHES” eye rating 

  • “PULHES" is the military acronym for Physical capacity/stamina, Upper extremities, Lower extremities, Hearing and ears, Eyes, and pSychiatric
  • PULHES is a military rating system (typically of scores 1-4) used to indicate a Service Member’s medical capabilities for specific assignments or deployment

After Entry Requirements 

After entry into the Armed Forces, routine Vision Screenings are required for Readiness as part of the Periodic Health Assessment (PHA).  

Several additional health requirements ensure Service Members eyesight is protected and conserved throughout their service appointment. See Policies page. 

Additional Information

​If you need specific assistance from our DCPH-A experts please Contac​t​ Us​.

In addition to the articles and information on these DCPH-A webpages, you may find additional resources at the DoD Vision Center of Excellence (VCE)​.External Link