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All things LASIK surgery (aircrew/other -- merged)

bossi

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(I will believe it when I see it - no pun intended - up here in Canada. I realised how cynical I‘ve become when I mused that DND will probably continue to drag its‘ feet with regard to approving laser eye surger ... probably because some penny-pincher is afraid that if they approve this procedure, then DND would have to pay for it! Thus, it‘s in the bureaucrats‘ best interest to continue to stonewall, since really gung-ho individuals will/would continue to pay for it themselves - thereby saving DND a pretty penny ... which they‘ll need to pay for those two new executive jets for the Prime Minister ...).

Laser Surgery Battle-Worthy In Army‘s Eyes
Vision Treatment Shown To Give Soldiers an Edge

By Steve Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 1, 2002; Page A01

Army Sgt. Kevin Hayes lay flat on his back in a circular operating room at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, his right eye pried open directly beneath a laser.

"Acquired," a computer attached to the laser announced in a metallic voice, signaling that the machine was tracking Hayes‘s pupil.

A motorized instrument sliced an opening in Hayes‘s cornea. Lt. Col. Scot Bower, an Army surgeon, pressed a foot pedal, triggering a laser that delivered pulses to reshape the cornea to Hayes‘s prescription. Within minutes, Hayes, 24, was recuperating in a waiting area, slightly dazed behind protective eyeshades but no worse for the wear.

The Army is building itself a better soldier, one eye at a time.

After years of skepticism, the military is embracing laser eye surgery with enthusiasm, envisioning soldiers in Afghanistan and other hot spots who no longer have to worry about glasses fogging up or contacts popping out during combat. "It makes people into potentially better soldiers, better able to perform their duties," said Bower, director of refractive surgery at Walter Reed, in Northwest Washington.

"They‘re kind of tuned up, if you will," said Col. William P. Madigan Jr., assistant chief for ophthalmology at Walter Reed.

Just two years ago, anyone who had undergone such surgery would have been disqualified from active duty.

Now, laser eye surgery is not only allowed, but it is also actively promoted by the military. Today, Walter Reed is launching its Warfighter Refractive Eye Surgery Program. There and at other Army hospitals across the country, the surgeons expect to correct the vision of thousands of soldiers in coming years. The Air Force and Navy offer similar programs.

"There‘s a huge demand for the procedure -- probably more demand than we‘re going to be able to handle," Bower said.

The about-face came after a Department of Defense medical panel, after evaluating several years of research by the Navy, concluded that concerns about laser surgery damaging the structure of the eyes had not been borne out and that -- to the contrary -- the surgery was a way to improve the fighting forces. Congress subsequently approved $15 million for the program.

Officials are quick to point out that the laser surgery is strictly voluntary. "It‘s not a program to build an Uebermensch," Madigan said.

Nonetheless, many soldiers are encouraged by superiors to have the surgery. "Commanders are seeing the potential and wanting to have their troops treated," Bower said. "People are seeing it as combat readiness, enhancing the fighting force."

Eyeglasses have long been troublesome for soldiers, and modern warfare has made the problem worse. Increasingly, the military is employing sophisticated weapons and gadgets where glasses can get in the way. Soldiers who wear glasses need prescription inserts to wear gas masks. The same is true of goggles being developed to protect soldiers from enemy lasers.

"If your glasses steam up or fall off, you‘ve become a liability," Madigan said. "You‘re no longer part of the solution -- you‘re part of the problem."

In harsh environments where U.S. troops often are deployed, contact lenses can be even worse. Many soldiers who wore contact lenses during the Gulf War ended up ditching them and wearing glasses, Madigan said.

Laser eye surgery was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1995. Since then, more than 3 million Americans have had the surgery.

Bower estimated that the surgery he performed on Hayes‘s eyes would cost $2,700 to $4,500 in the civilian world.

The adverse effects reported by small percentages of patients -- including pain, glare, halos and vision left worse than it had been with glasses or contact lenses -- have not been common enough to stop performing the surgery, Army officials said.

Much of the military‘s earlier concern involved LASIK (Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis) surgery, which Hayes underwent. There were worries that the flap created in the cornea as part of the procedure might tear open in combat conditions.

As part of its review, the Army monitored how members of its elite combat force, the Rangers, fared in rugged training conditions after having the surgery. "They could jump out of planes at night, fight with pugil sticks, slog through the swamps for weeks and not have problems," Madigan said. "They reported that it gave them an edge. They didn‘t have to worry about fogging up their glasses or losing their [contact] lens."

Added Col. William Rimm, chief of ophthalmology services at Walter Reed, "We were criticized for being slow on the uptake, but we wanted some science to back it up."

The military remains reluctant about allowing LASIK surgery on aviators out of concern that high-speed ejections from aircraft could tear the flaps, officials said, and more research is being conducted.

The Army has established criteria for who should get the surgery first, according to Madigan. Top priority will be given to infantry and Special Forces, followed by others deemed likely to face combat, including armor, artillery and combat engineers -- "The people actually mixing it up," Madigan said. Within a unit, commanders may decide the priority, Madigan said.

The services estimate that 35 percent to 50 percent of service members need corrective lenses, but eligibility for laser surgery depends on the type of eye problem and other medical factors. Initially, officials predicted that perhaps 30 percent of eligible troops would opt for the procedure. But given its increasing popularity, the figure may be 70 percent to 80 percent, Rimm said.

Soldiers go through counseling before the treatment, and if a doctor senses uneasiness, the surgery is canceled, Madigan said. "The soldier always has the last say," he said.

Walter Reed‘s refractive surgery center has corrected the vision of nearly 200 service members since opening in January. Soldiers who have had the procedure have given it rave reviews.

"Being a person who‘s worn glasses since second grade, it‘s been a kick," said Marine Master Sgt. Bob Beyer of Woodbridge.

"It was 15 minutes, and I was out and seeing," said Spec. Antoine Flowers, assigned to a satellite control battalion at Fort Meade, while reporting for his one-week checkup. "This is the best thing since sliced bread. I can see."

Flowers said that word of the surgery is spreading quickly at the Army post in Anne Arundel County. "I have four more people in my unit trying to get it," Flowers said. "Everybody‘s trying to get it."
 

Fishbone Jones

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We‘ll have to see if the CF med system has any money after doing the free sex changes (sorry, Gender Re-allocation (pc)).
 
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Canidule

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holy ****! I was laughing pretty bad when you said that recceguy, i thought it was a joke....until i decided to see if it wasnt a joke after all....and i saw that http://www.dnd.ca/menu/maple/vol_3/Vol3_5/entrenous_e.htm
that really isnt funny at all anymore.....what the **** is this? he wanted a ****ing free surgery so he joined the army?
 

portcullisguy

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"... Laser eye surgery for combat troops ..."

Two steps forward...

"... Gender-reallocation surgery for combat troops ..."

And, three steps back.
 
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Ladies and Gentlemen,

It‘s a great idea, only one problem, there is absolutely no knowledge of what the long term effects of this procedure will be.

I was talking to a old friend who is an opthalmic surgeon just before Christmas, she saying that every client who has the procedure done, has to sign the relevent legal documentation in the presence of a solicitor which relieves the surgeon of any litigation due to health problems caused by this procedure in the long term! I rang her this morning after emailing the text to her, she saying that when at a conference in Honolulo in January, they were told that this is standard in the US, so if you go blind ect, tough you have no recompense from the US Government.

Yours,
Jock in Sydney who will stick with his glasses
 
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Yes, I have been debating with myself over this issue for a while. Does anybody know if you can wear glasses if you wanted to join a SF unit or Para unit?
Maybe Canada should take a step at looking at contact lenses made for combat conditions and can be worn for days/weeks at a time. That would be a better investment than the ****in sex change.
 
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Canidule

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i might be wrong but yeah you surely can be in the SF and para if you wear glasses but glasses surely doesnt help in the field, like on discovery or tlc i dont remember which 1 there was a thing about the ranger training, there was 2 or 3 guy with glasses and none of them made it to the end(i think, but anyway its not a thing about wearing glasses or not i guess) but some legion and mercenary group dont accept anyone with glasses
 

portcullisguy

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Originally posted by Gordon Angus Mackinlay:
[qb]It‘s a great idea, only one problem, there is absolutely no knowledge of what the long term effects of this procedure will be.
[/qb]
True, the research that has been done (every surgery is another case for the doctor‘s research reports to medicl journals) only goes back 20 years, the date of the first radial keratotomy (RK).

LASIK is only about 4 years old, and PRK is about 10-15 years old. LASIK is based on the PRK principle, but instead of lasering through the first layers of corneal tissue, they leave it intact by creating a flap with a speculum, thereby eliminating the need for a bandage lens after the surgery, and reducing the risks for over-regrowth.

My doctor also told me about the possibility of side-effects and that regrowth could occur that would leave your vision only slightly better than before.

My doctor also said that, in about 20 years (when I‘m 45 ... I was 25 at the time of surgery), I will probably need reading glasses in any event, as the lens in your eye hardens at about 45 from over exposure to UV light.

So I took the chance. I can see great again, and I might get 20 useful years out of my eyes (regrowth occurs normally in the first week and is easy to treat with hormone drops).

My vision is 20/15, and has been since November 2000, when I had the surgery done.

Even if I end up needing glasses for reading in 10 years, I still have gotten 12 solid years of clear vision without corrective lenses, during my prime working years.
 

Korus

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hhmm... Interesting.. I‘ll have to see what unfolds over the next 5+ years or so.. It‘s not worth it to think too much about eye surgery until my vision stabilizes enough to have it...
 

noneck

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I had PRK done in 1996. I was working for a Bde HQ then on Cl B and had to go to Calgary as the Cf was still kicking people out at that point.

I can honestly say that it was the best money I have ever spent. 6 years on I have no problems with halos or degenerative vision. From -2.5 in my right eye and -4.5 in my left eye I am now 20/15 in the right and 20/20 in the left.

It is also a lot cheaper now, when I had the procedure it cost me $5,500.00. Now it can be had for the equivalent cost of a couple of pairs of specs.

Get it done and don‘t look back, especially if it‘s preventing you from meeting a vision category for employment.

Alba Gu Bragh
 
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Harry

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All the med data to date indicates benefits. My only concern is that you are dealing with a soft tissue that is being burnt by laser.

Nobody knows the long term effects or ramifications. Most people will go with the time tested theory of "Worry about that when it happens". I classify it with knee and back surgery. Some initial probs, but they have been almost perfected.

However the immediate recovery and improvements are in itself a very compelling justification.

Good luck if you do it.
 
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rceme_rat

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Search the forum - this has been discussed elsewhere just recently.

I had LASIK after getting out of the army. Very pleased with the results. One bad effect is that it seems my eyes get tired more often than they used to - or this may just be the result of getting a little older.

For those who can‘t understand why someone would take the risk, consider what it would be like if you woke up every morning and had to find your glasses before you could see the alarm clock, or what it must be like to be in the field with your glasses covered in rain or snow, or what it is like to have them gog up when you go into the CP, etc.

My recommendation is to go for it -- after you‘ve read as much as you can about the procedure, and talked with as many people as you need to before you are comfortable choosing a facility -- and then, go quality - don‘t try to save a few bucks - choose the latest equipment, the best surgeon, etc. For what it‘s worth, I went with Gimble.

Oh - the comment above re liability waiver -- it IS surgery, so why wouldn‘t you expect to sign the waiver just like you do for other surgery. Besides, the waiver relly makes you aware of what you are doing, so what‘s wrong with that? And if the surgeon really screws up, the waiver may end up being tossed aside by the courts.
 
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Jug

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...is this true? That you can‘t get in as a pilot when you‘ve had your eyes corrected. I can understand it for jet fighters, but is this also a restriction for mult-engine and helos?
 

Mat-V

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I know this has been discused a couple of times, but one question was never answered.

Is there a delay you have to wait after the surgery before you can go back and make a new demand for recruitement as an infantry soldier ?

I had one medical officer talking about 6 months and a recruiter telling me there‘s no delay. I just dont know who to believe anymore !!! :confused:
 
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Jug

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Doesn‘t really matter if you‘ve had it for 6 months or 1 year. They‘ll still send you with some forms for your eye-surgon to fill out verifying that there wree no problems.

At the time of my app, my sight was stable 20/15 from Laser-Eye for over a year and they still had me get forms filled out for it.

Just more hoops to jump through and more red tape to rip-up. :)
 
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Christopher

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There is a delay. According to the Canadian Medical Association, it is required for patients to come in for follow-up examinations for a period of six months after you get zapped.

Within that timeframe, I believe that they won‘t completely process your medical until your eyes completely heal over and your vision stabilizes, and there are no severe complications (which is why they want the extra LASIK/PRK form filled out by your eye doctor).

I lucked out, because my medical was a day after the six-month period. :)
 
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furyofmojo

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Hi! Im not exactly sure if this is the proper place to post this question but I‘ll give it go anyways.

Im really interested in joined the canadian Armed forces but my vision is not perfect. I know the air force requires their pilots to have 20/20 vision uncorrected, but does that also include lasik eye surgery? My vision isn‘t bad actually, maybe just worse that perfect. I really want to become a pilot but if that door is closed, I will join the infantry. When I went down to the recruitment centre they made it sound as if Lasik would prevent me from joining even the infantry. Can someone with reliable information let me know what exactly the status is on people who have had lasik eye surgery done?

1) For someone who wants to become a pilot; is a perfect vision after lasik eye surgery a big No No?

2) For someone who wants to become an officer in the infantry; is a perfect vision after lasik eye surgery a big No No?

I would really appreciate a response, I was really disappointed after coming out of the recruitment centre : (
 

jonsey

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1) I‘m not sure of this, but I don‘t think that laser eye surgery would help. I could be wrong, though.

2) It doesn‘t matter. Glasses, surgery, I think it‘s all good, as long as you meet the minimum sight requirement.
 
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