LASIK and Military Service

LASIK and military service would seem to be a good fit, as military personnel are required to endure rigorous circumstances that make glasses and contacts inconvenient, at best.

Each branch of the service has slightly different policies on laser eye procedures, but almost every service member can receive laser eye surgery under the Warfighter Refractive Eye Surgery Program, or the WRESP. PRK has few restrictions, but certain areas of service, like Special Forces, SCUBA, and HALO, generally do not allow LASIK for their troops. LASIK may be permitted by Special Forces, if the surgery was completed before the service member entered Special Forces.

Pilots and student naval aviators are routinely granted a waiver by the Navy or Marines, in order to be allowed to fly after PRK, as long as they have had no complications and they can pass the vision tests. A blanket waiver is available for those who have had PRK and want to apply for Special Forces or Combat Diving qualifications, or military free fall courses. LASIK and PRK both qualify for waivers for Airborne, Air Assault, and Ranger schools, but those candidates who have undergone LASIK must participate in an observational study if they want to train for Special Forces qualification. Unfortunately, having LASIK disqualifies candidates for several United States Army Special Operations Command schools, including HALO, SCUBA, and SERE. The best way to know the policy that covers your branch of service is to contact the nearest same service Warfighter Refractive Eye Surgery Center for more information.

.In general, to qualify for surgery under WRESP, you must be active duty, activated National Guard, or Activated Reserve Personnel, and have the approval of your commanding officer. You must have at least eighteen months remaining on your tour of duty, or an executed reenlistment action, and you must not have any adverse personnel actions pending. As with all laser eye surgery patients, you must be at least eighteen years old, and able to attend all pre- and post-operative appointments.

After laser eye surgery, time must be allowed for healing. Though the majority of the healing process only takes a few days, the service member will not be deployable for six weeks (for LASIK) to three months (for PRK) after the procedure. This is to minimize risk of injury and complications, and promote optimal healing conditions. For thirty days after surgery, personnel should not participate in risky activities, including living in tents, firing weapons, working in harsh environments, or driving military vehicles. In addition, for one year after LASIK, personnel must wear sunglasses any time they are in a bright or sunny area.

LASIK and military service are usually compatible, with a few notable exceptions. If you are a service member, or considering joining the military, be sure to learn the regulations for your chosen branch and field of service before committing to laser vision correction. To learn more about LASIK and other laser vision correction procedures, visit the Tylock-George Eye Care and Laser Center website, or join the online community on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.