Can a pilot be obese, diabetic, colorblind or have ADHD?

Here comes the follow up on our latest blogpost where we covered the subject of what you can expect at your first Medical Class 1 examination. The blogpost might raise more questions, like can you become a pilot if you are obese? Too thin? Wear glasses?

We welcome Mentour Pilot and Michael Sjöö again in their second interview where they go through the medical requirements for pilots. The interview is based on 10 questions (see the time codes below) and you can watch the full interview in this video.


Time codes:

  1. Can you wear glasses and be a pilot? – 1:25
  2. Can you do laser eye surgery? – 2:50
  3. Can you be colorblind? – 5:15
  4. Can you have heart problems? – 6:40
  5. Can you be diabetic? – 8:55
  6. Can you be obese? – 11:35
  7. Can you be too thin? – 13:45
  8. How tall/short can you be? – 14:05
  9. Can you have a bad back? – 16:20
  10. Can you have ADHD? – 17:35

Don’t worry I have written a short recap of every question just to make it easy for you. Here you go!

1: Can you wear glasses and be a pilot?

Yes! However, there are limits in which you need to be able to read 1.0 with both eyes and at least 0.7 in each individual eye. But, the visual acuity requirements are all given for corrected vision. So if you can correct your vision with glasses or contact lenses it’s accepted.

2: Can you do laser eye surgery?  

If you’re considering to do an eye surgery you need to consult with a specialist before doing it. Some of the risks with the eye surgery are that your night vision could get worse and in other cases, it can result in symptoms like ‘halo’ effects that defects your vision which will disable you to get the Medical Class 1. 

So yes, you can do the laser surgery, but it is not recommended due to the significant risk that are implied. And why take the chance?

Medical requirements for pilots

3: Can you be colorblind?

You need to complete an Ishihara test, which is the famous test with the colored circles and numbers (see the picture to the right). number

You then have to tell the numbers in a series of different colors and numbers. If you’re underperforming in this test you will go to a specialist who then tests your color vision. It is only in a few cases that you won’t make this test either which is due to some severe defects in your eyes.

4: Can you have heart problems?

It is important if you detect some disturbance in your heart rhythm that you see a doctor right away because it’s crucial to detect heart problems in an early stage so that it can be treated. There have been episodes of pilots who had a heart attack and came back in the seat after treatment. The same goes for different heart diseases, if they are treated well and you live healthy, you can come back.

5: Can you be diabetic?

If you use insulin through injections you will be disqualified. On the other hand, it’s okay if you take tablets that are used for the mild form or early stage of diabetes. Diabetic and obesity sometimes go in hand and with that come high blood pressure which is definitely not a good combination. But you can do something about it like regular exercise and a healthy diet. Basically, just remember to take good care of yourself to avoid that kind of disease. 

6: Can you be obese? 

Yes, but there are some limitations to take into account. The limit of obesity is a maximum BMI at 35. Like if you are 180 cm and weigh over 120 kg you could lose your medical license. This is a crucial matter because if an emergency appears you need to evacuate through the window and fit!

7: Can you be too thin?   

It is not an option to be anorectic because it indicates that you’re not eating properly and it will not be ideal to be on a diet when you’re flying. Remember that it’s extremely important to get the right nutrition and energy for flying and that you’re in normal physical shape.  

8: How tall/short can you be? 

There aren’t any defined limits for the heights but the companies have limits due to their aircraft. So you cannot be to short because then you won’t be able to reach the panels above you. The limits for how short you can be would be around 165 cm in order to be able to reach and maneuver a plane. And you cannot be too tall either because then you would be seating bend and uncomfortable in the chair and probably getting neck problems.  

9: Can you have a bad back?

Again, your overall health is important. You need to be able to move around if an emergency appears, so it is not an option with a bad back that can’t move. In specific cases, you need to consult with more specialists.

10: Can you have ADHD?

Yes, but you can no longer be under treatment with pharmacological subsets. This points to the issue of being honest at your medical examination. So remember to bring it up and talk about it. In that way, you will be trusted, and you need to be trusted to fly a commercial airplane.


I hope you got a better understanding of what is required of you when going for your medical examination and I hope this blog post answered your questions and doubts. 


What to expexct on your first Medical Class 1 Examination? Check out our blogpost, where Martin explains detailed about his first experience with Medical Class 1 Examination.