For thousands of soldiers, eye surgery is the key to visual preparation

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Centers of Excellence | Prevention of visual and hearing loss

For military ophthalmologists and eye surgeons, one of their top priorities is to preserve and improve the vision of service members who need it most, including those working in professional fields such as aviation, operations special and security forces.

The heart of this effort is the Warfighter Refractive Eye Surgery Program, which has supported more than 750,000 surgeries over the past 20 years. Surgical procedures, which include Lasik and PRK surgery, are often aimed at eliminating military dependence on eyeglasses or contact lenses in austere environments.

“Our goal is to enable our combatants to qualify and continue in occupations that may require excellent uncorrected vision,” the Navy Lt. Commander said. (Dr.) Tyler Miles, an aerospace optometrist at the Navy Refractive Surgery Center at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego.

To help the military eye care community stay current with the latest technology and research, the 2022 Military Refractive Surgery Strategy and Safety Symposium (MRSSSS) convened in late January. This year’s symposium was held virtually due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

The symposium drew attention to how to improve vision on the battlefield, make helmets and goggles less restrictive, and improve standardization and optimization across the military healthcare system. Refractive surgery is a Defense Health Agency model for standardizing and optimizing procedures at 26 military eye centers.

Laser eye surgery is available to all active duty members who are medically and administratively qualified. Although it is classified as an elective surgery, patients are often extremely satisfied with the outcome and their decision to have a Lasik or PRK procedure.

“For most service members, the improved preparedness and safety they find after surgery is often cited as one of the best decisions they’ve made in their military career,” Miles said. .

the Warfighter Refractive Eye Surgery Program was originally designed to provide a combat vision advantage to Navy SEALS, Special Forces and other combatants through a variety of corrective surgery options.

Since its inception in 2001, research, technology and experience have allowed the program to expand and include all active duty members, including Airmen.

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