Prevalence and Distribution of Refractive Errors Among Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and the U.S. Coast Guard, 2019

In 2019, the prevalence of myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism among the active component of the U.S. Armed Forces was 17.5%, 2.1%, and 11.2%, respectively, while the U.S. Coast Guard had rates of 10.1%, 1.2%, and 6.1%, respectively. Spectacle correction was required by 24.0% of the active component and 14.6% of the Coast Guard, with single-vision distance glasses being the most common. Among service members receiving spectacle correction for distance vision, those in the reserve component, military academies, and National Guard were significantly more myopic than active component and Coast Guard members. The Air Force and Marine Corps were the most myopic, followed by the Navy and Army, with the Coast Guard being the least myopic. This information is crucial for understanding warfighter visual capabilities and establishing vision standards. Notably, around 20% of active duty members required full-time spectacle correction for distance vision. The study's strengths include a large sample size and scientific refractive error classification. However, it assumes that all service members who needed spectacle correction ordered them in 2019, potentially leading to underestimated prevalence rates. Overall, this data aids in planning military programs and developing protective eyewear and devices for warfighters.

Publication date

August 2, 2022


Military Health System and Defense Health Agency


CDR Gao, LTC Truong, Dr. Taylor, Lt Col Robles-Morales, and LTC Aitken (Clinical Public Health and Epidemiology, U.S. Army Public Health Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD)
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