If you are currently in the army or are considering joining, then you may have wondered what the regulations are regarding laser eye surgery. This is, of course, assuming you that you don’t already have perfect vision.
Up until quite recently, the army has been very sceptical about laser eye surgery with those having had it done being rejected from applying. The army’s attitude is slowly changing and although things aren’t exactly black and white, people are now being accepted into the army who have had laser eye surgery.
The armies current standpoint is that they will look at each case individually but this is far improved from their previous instant rejection. There are 4 main factors that your application will be judged on and they are as follows:
1) The type of laser eye surgery: The army will consider people who have had the following refractive surgery:
- PRK, (similar to Lasek)
- Intrastromal corneal rings (ICRs)
- Intrastromal corneal segments (ICSs).
You will not be considered if you have had the following laser eye surgery:
- radial keratotomy (RK)
- Astigmatic keratotomy (AK)
- Intraocular (within the eye) surgical procedures such as implantable contact lenses and refractive lens exchange.
2) Time since you had the laser eye treatment: You need to wait at least one year from having your surgery before you will even be considered. Once this time has elapsed you will be assessed by an army ophthalmologist to confirm that there have been no visual side effects following the surgery and that your prescription is stable.
3)The Visual outcome of the surgery: Obviously you will still need to meet the required standards that the army sets.
4) The Department you want to join: Certain departments within the armed forces such as aviation, may not allow applicants who have had laser eye surgery.
What happens if I am already in the army and want to have laser eye surgery?
If you decide to have laser eye surgery whilst already serving in the army you are obliged to disclose this to your medical officer. Following laser eye surgery you will be temporarily medically downgraded for a period of 12 months. After the 12 months, you will be re-assessed by a Service consultant ophthalmologist, who will confirm that you can resume at your previous status.