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Is Excellent Vision Required for Your Occupation?

Coke bottle glasses might not matter much behind a desk, and cataracts don’t necessarily stop the filing of reports in a cubicle farm, but some occupations require more from our eyes than others.

It’s a widely circulated truism that to enjoy a job as a fighter pilot in the military, exceptional vision is mandatory. While your eyes don’t have to be perfect to be the next Top Gun, they do have to be pretty good, with a minimum vision of 20/70 uncorrected at distance and 20/30 up close. And, of course, that vision must be correctable to perfect 20/20. Surprisingly, a history free of adult allergies is required as well.

Other occupations also require excellent vision to even be considered. For instance, a career in the U.S. Secret Service demands uncorrected vision of 20/60 that can be brought back to perfect 20/20.

That said, not all occupations have vision requirements. The vast majority of desk jobs, skilled labor and others have no vision test at all, but poor vision left uncorrected can results in unchecked eye conditions and diseases. And these diseases can affect job performance, no matter what sharp-eyed requirements are in place.

Quite simply, if people around the world could see better at their work, a great deal of productivity could be gained. A study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health estimated that some 158 million people around the world suffer from vision problems, which could likely be fixed with a simple eye exam and corrective lenses. That huge number of people equated to an estimated $272 billion in lost productivity according to the Vision Impact Institute.

For most people in the workplace, getting by with outdated glasses or skipping out on a prescription at all might be possible for a while. Whether it’s staring at a computer screen (eye strain from long periods of screen use has been shown to create issues from headaches to dry eyes and even blurred vision), empty highways (commercial drivers are required by states to meet fairly strict vision requirements), or flying the friendly skies (the Federal Aviation Administration requires 20/20 distance vision and 20/40 intermediate and near vision for commercial pilots), attention to your vision health is mandatory.

Regular exams by an eyecare professional can help maintain the best possible vision — both corrected and uncorrected — by catching and treating underlying optical conditions and maintaining accurate prescriptions. You may never be eagle-eyed enough to take the reins of a fighter pilot, but making sure your eyes are in top condition will make even the most boring desk job a little clearer