Home My Military Vision OPTIC NERVE – Military Entrance Standards for Medical Fitness
OPTIC NERVE – Military Entrance Standards for Medical Fitness
Friday, 27 March 2009 23:00


These are the Army military regulations used at MEPS and military processing centers for the entrance vision standards for eye diseases and visual acuity.


This is an extrapolated version of AR 40-501 2-12.  This section describes eye diseases and visual acuity standards for entrance into the United States military.  Included here are the disqualifying conditions, a brief description of the condition, and what challenges a condition or disease may create for a new soldier.


This section relates to eye conditions and diseases of the OPTIC NERVE that are disqualifying

I am interested in joining the military.  What are the military regulations and standards regarding optic nerve conditions?



F. Optic nerve.


The optic nerve is the nerve that carries information (images) from the retina inside the eye to the brain.  A disease, trauma, or inflammation of the optic nerve can cause visual disturbances and/or decrease vision.  There are many optic nerve inflammatory conditions that are temporary.  However, these can often cause permanent loss of central or peripheral vision. Most systemic conditions that cause inflammation in the optic nerve are serious conditions.  These systemic conditions are often always disqualifying for the military.



Disqualifying Conditions:


1.  Optic neuritis
Optic atrophy
Retrobulbar neuritis


Why is this disqualifying?


These optic nerve conditions are related to the inflammation of the optic nerve that goes to the eye.  This inflammation can cause part or all of the optic nerve to atrophy or die.  Because the optic nerve is primary responsible for bringing the image from the eye to the brain if there is a disease that affects the optic nerve one will experience visual problems.  Typically, these problems are permanent or temporary decrease in vision and/or visual field defection (peripheral vision decreases.) These optic nerve conditions are often related to other systemic conditions that are themselves disqualifying.  For example, optic neuritis is associated with multiple sclerosis, measles, mumps, tuberculosis, syphilis, sarcoidosis and many others.  These optic nerve conditions are often recurrent and may require extensive treatment.  This can limit the ability of a soldier to train, deploy, successfully complete basic training, and/or can cause significant vision loss.


2. Optic atrophy
Cortical blindness


Why is this disqualifying?


Optic atrophy is when part or the entire optic nerve has died.  This can be caused by an infection, trauma, and/or inflammation.  Typically, when one has optic atrophy they will have poor vision in that eye.  This is often associated with other systemic diseases which are disqualifying.  This can limit the ability of a soldier to train, deploy, successfully complete basic training, and/or can cause significant vision loss.


3.  Papilledema


Why is this disqualifying?


Papilledema is when the optic nerve is swollen in both eyes.  This is caused by the increase in inctracranial pressure in the brain.  Papilledema is a very serious condition that is can be caused by intracranial tumors, hydrocephalus, psedotumor cerebri, subdural/epidural hematomas, subarachnoid hemorrhage, A/V malformation, brain abscess, meningitis, encephalitis, and/or thrombrosis.  This is an emergent condition that can lead to death.  A soldier will be unable to train and/or deploy with this condition.




Below is the exact AR 40-501 military army regulation for this section of eye disease and vision.

AR 40-501 2–12. Eyes

f. Optic nerve.

(1) Current or history of optic neuritis (377.3), including, but not limited to neuroretinitis, secondary optic atrophy, or documented history of retrobulbar neuritis is disqualifying.
(2) Current or history of optic atrophy (377.1), or cortical blindness (377.75) is disqualifying.
(3) Current or history of papilledema
(377.0) is disqualifying.

Last Updated on Monday, 14 January 2013 00:44

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