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LASIK and Military Question??

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New member
Aug 20, 2002
Can someone please clarify the Military's latest and greatest attitude towards PRK(Laser corrective surgery)?

Three years ago I was officially given a medical disqualification from the Marines for flying. I've jumped through all the hoops for the Airforce as well, only to later be given a cold shoulder.

I had the corrective surgery four years ago, with absolutely no complications( 20/15 in both eyes).

Since then, I've completed all my civilian ratings and currently fly the ERJ-145/135 for a major carrier. However, I've always dreamed of flying the greatest aircraft in the world. And would love another shot at a military slot.

Thanks for any insight,
The Navy, Marines and the AF will allow you to fly with PRK, provided you get a waiver. However LASIK is a disqualifier in all services, period. The AF definitely won't allow it but the naval services may allow it in the future, although I would'nt hold my breath.
According to a flight surgeon buddy of mine, because LASIK cuts the lens, the Navy has issues based on potential problems associated with pressurization. For that reason he doesn't think they are going to waive it.
Looking at getting the PRK myself in the next couple months and as far as the Navy is concerned it seems to be a readily available waiver as long as vision is stabilized and at 20/40 or better. It seems to have loosened up a bit from when the accession program was first started a couple years ago and guys were more closely scrutinized during training with more frequent checkups. The only thing that has been spooking me about the whole deal is the haze and night glare issues. Did you have any of that?
Hi Hobe,

I just wanted to share some info about what I learned in a conference concerning corrective eye surgery. Of course we all know that with any surgery there could be possible repercussions.

In the past, haloes starbursts, etc... Have been experienced by some due to this type of surgery (Lasic). PRK is different.

I have learned recently that these complications can be "mostly" avoided or reduced if the laser is one of the newer models. Essentially the old lasers were not big enough. The new ones treat an area of 6 millimeters where the old ones treated an area of about 5mm. Don't quote me on the numbers!!!!! The important point is ask your doctor if it is the larger laser. Doctors may try to avoid or dodge this question because most of them RENT-to-OWN the equipment! After a certain number of procedures, it is paid off. This does not mean they will buy the new equipment.

The moral of this post is that studies show that if you use the newer laser, the one that treats a larger portion of the eye, you will significantly reduce any of the "common" side affects!

Good luck,
Thanks, that's good info. From what I've gathered both from this forum and talking to a couple doctors is what causes the glare is the fact that the pupil dilates past the point of correction in dim light. So, it sounds like things are getting better all the time with the new lasers. Everything I've heard about PRK has been farely positive, LASIK is another story.

Actually it is Lasic that is the better of the two. It has less side-affects in then long run and in the short. PRK is much more painful and is not used nearly as often these days. It would depend on the individual’s circumstances. I think some cases warrant a particular procedure. But make no mistake; Lasic is the procedure used 95 percent of the time these days. After a nice cat-nap following the procedure, most people hardly feel anything! No pain or side affects.

A doctor who has performed both procedures about 3000 times would be the best person to talk with. Anyone with less "time under their belts" ---- well I wouldn't want my rookie quarterback playing in the championship game!


I had PRK done by the Navy about 6 months ago with no complications. Yeah, I was a little nervous too about allowing military docs to mess with my eyes, but my vision was god-awful anyway. Now that I see 20/15 in both eyes, I have NO regrets. The Navy doc at Balboa (San Diego) made us sit through three hours of statistics and facts on complications, success rates, infections, etc. According to his data PRK had about the same success rate as LASIK, with a slightly less risk of infection. In either case the differences were minute. He also mentioned that, although LASIK wasn't yet approved for Navy air, it probably would be within a year. I guess the fear was that the little flap would come off in a high-speed ejection. Somebody mentioned to me that at the speeds required to remove the flap, your eyes would get pretty jacked up regardless. This is all second hand gouge, so take it for what it's worth...
PRK does involve a little more pain ("discomfort" as the doc put it) than LASIK, but as the SEALS say... "pain is just weakness leaving the body".

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