Lasik – How Beneficial is it for Military Personnel
Lasik surgery is a great choice for several people opting to get
vision correction and improvement in sight. The procedure is done
on an outpatient basis and the person can get back to normal functions
quickly after the procedure usually with no complications. Like
other people, the military too can get good benefit out of the procedure.
It is now quite common where people in the military get Lasik treatment
to eliminate the necessity of wearing contacts or glasses.
As per estimates, around 10,000 to 12,000 military personnel wear
glasses or contacts and need to keep in touch through regular checkups
to see if their prescriptions have changed. This can be very cumbersome
to personnel who are posted abroad and in times of war. There is
also the possibility of breakage of the glasses and eye irritations
when the contacts are not maintained properly. Such problems can
be avoided if military personnel take up Lasik treatment and the
military has been strongly recommending it to their personnel.
The advantage of this procedure is that it is very quick and done
on an outpatient basis. It is very ideal for people whose vision
problems are ranging from low to moderate. Using a laser, the surgeon
will cut a flap in the corneal surface. From the inner layers, some
amount of predetermined tissue is removed to reshape the corneal
surface and bring improvement in the sight. The reflected flap is
then placed back and allowed to heal. People in the military often
make a choice to undergo the procedure using PRK technology. In
this method, there is no necessity of creating a flap and activities
after the surgery is not a concern for healing. This is beneficial
to the people in the military as they have to undertake strenuous
physical activities like jumping, swimming, flying, etc.
The cost of the procedure is justified by the reduction of the
necessity of having to change glasses or contacts on a regular basis.
This procedure is provided to military personnel at lesser costs
in comparison to what it would cost to other civilians. While military
personnel need to pay only $1000 for the procedure, civilians have
to put up charges in the range of $1700 to $2500. Approximately,
about a third of people in the military with vision problems will
enjoy the advantage the procedure gives. It is advised to balance
the need for the procedure and the degree of problems that exist
while deciding on the treatment. Personnel involved in combat training
activities generally prefer to go for the procedure.
Even the Air Force has been advising its pilots to go for the procedure.
It began a program in the year 2001 to provide the treatment to
its personnel. The eligible candidates are offered PRK. Lasik is
given as an option only to personnel whose duties do not involve
too much physical strain. Pilots cannot take up Lasik as the flap
can get displaced during flight and cause some unnecessary complications.
Personnel in the Special Forces and those who need to prepare to
go for combat and have to wear equipment like respirators or gas
masks are recommended for surgery and are given high degree of priority.
But, not all the people are eligible to go in for vision correction
as they might have other systemic conditions like diabetes or arthritis
that make them ineligible for the procedure.
Even though the procedure is totally optional, people who are in
combat training are advised and urged to take up the treatment.
When in combat, there are high chances of breakage of glasses that
can cause trauma to the eyes. This was a very common phenomenon
in the past. While sometimes it is still essential to wear some
form of corrective lens after the procedure, the time for which
it needs to be worn is significantly lesser.
Since 1995, an estimated three million Americans have had good
outcome from the surgery. Even though there is a chance of some
complications arising during the procedure or during healing the
percentage of people who have these are quite low at around 1%.
The Congress is in favor of providing Lasik to personnel in the
military. It set aside $15 million towards expenses for eye surgery
provided to military personnel. This is highly beneficial to the
approximate 40 percent of troops in the Air Force that depend on
lenses. It is highly useful when the airmen need to jump off from
planes as there are high chances that their glasses can be lost
due to the winds at high altitude.
Lasik is of great help to people in the military who have to use
contacts or glasses to see clearly. There is a high risk of glasses
breaking while on active duty and possible threat of losing their
vision altogether. Also, for people in combat the glasses might
be a dividing factor in performing their duties efficiently as they
might not be able to see at all without their glasses. Lasik has
helped such people benefit a lot by eradicating the need to wear