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PRK and LASIK Information

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Everyone be VERY VERY CAREFUL. DO NOT GET LASIK DONE IF YOU ARE NOT ALREADY A PILOT IN THE AF. read on.

An awsome step in the right direction but unfortunately right now still a little too good to be true.

What I got from reading the waiver is that to be eligable you must already be a rated military pilot and it is only acceptable for AC that don't exceed 14000ft cabin altitude. It specifically disqualifies you from flying ALL FIGHTERS, C130, B52,C17,T37, T38,T6 and U2's. Since you cant fly the trainers it disqualifies ALL UPT STUDENTS AND APPLICANTS.

I think Lasik is just around the corner for all AC and those that haven't become pilots yet but as of now they are just not at that point yet. Another year or so of testing and monitoring those that get the procedure done to fly heavies and we should see some more changes.

For now sit tight and before you get anything done to your eyes make sure you and your doc fully understand the regs inside and out. I hate to hear it but people are still getting burned because of simple things being left out, or guidelines not being followed to the T.

-j

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Guest dumaisj

GreasySideUp,

Good news regarding the potential LASIK approval down the road and a big THANK YOU for being our vision surgery watchdog. I had a question regarding PRK, and as you always seem to be the local authority, I figured I'd shoot it your way. I am within AFI vision standards, but would definitely entertain the notion of PRK once I was rated. What sort of process is entailed if I went this route once I had wings? I'm sure the PRK waiting list is long and distinguished. If you still met Class II standards, is it possibly to elect for PRK, or is that just a pipe dream? Know anything? Thank you ahead of time!

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Yeah greasy, you gotta be careful with this whole eye alteration process thats for sure.

I am really surprised about how many cadets get PRK done but never see that they are out of the required pre-op limits. I have to suspect that the system is not being assimilated into all the personnelists in ROTC, that or the cadets are being told the wrongs thinghs, or cadets really just get it wrong.

This is a good step in the eye direction tho.

sid

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Dumais,

I'm not sure about meeting the standards and then having the surgery but if it were me I would absolutely not let anyone touch my eyes if it wasn't necessary to get into, or stay in the cockpit. With the people I've met that haven't made it through brooks post op I think the risks outweigh any benifits of wearing contacts or glasses. I couldn't imagine getting wings only to have them taken away by a doc and a reg when it was an elective surgery. Now that is just me speaking on my own behalf dealing with the mountains of paperwork and years of talking and waiting - you'll have to make a decision on your own carefully weighing the risks and rewards. The good news is that you have a while until you can make that decision and by that time new procedures may have come out and or be approved by the AF.

-j

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Anyone know if there is any possibility that they might allow WFG-LASIK for aircraft that fly above 14,000ft? From what I read, it's waiverable for aircraft that fly below 14,000ft.

I know PRK is a possibility but the success rate doesn't seem too high (success rate as in people getting waivers with PRK). This WFG-LASIK sounds pretty good though, just not sure if they'll use it for high flying aircraft.

I'm starting to wonder if I'm trying to go for something I can't even become... I hate my eyes. :(

Thanks.

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Guest dumaisj

WFG LASIK is only ok for those who already have wings AND fly aircraft with cabin altitudes <14000'. WFG LASIK will probably be okayed in the near future (read a year or two), but it's a no-go for now. Ask GreasySideUp about it...he's our laser surgery expert here.

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Guest psr13

If I were to enlist would the Air Force pay for PRK, or is it only if you are commissioned? Thanks.

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Eluzion,

A huge factor in the success of PRK is the patient's dedication to using the prescribed eye drops after the surgery - don't use them when you should and halos are a greater possibility. I had my PRK done two years ago today and don't regret it one bit. I think that 20% of PRK patients having poor results is an exageration.

PRK is an elective surgery and there is some risk involved. But if you really want to fly for the Air Force and PRK would open that door for you, I say go for it. Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.

Dude

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Guest kack

Eluzion,

PRK is virtually the same as Lasik the only difference is that in PRK they burn the outer layer of tissue off the eye and in lasik they cut it off which produces the flap. once the tissue is removed via burn it off or the flap the same laser is used to reshape the eye. the flap has been the problem for lasik they think the flag will rip off in flight. with lasik the flap makes healing faster and with PRK you have to be religious with the drops and try not to use your eyes for about a week postop. Do a little research into pupil size and eye tracking lasers. some laser only cut 6mm of your eye while other can cut up to 10mm some lasers track the eye while they are cutting and other do not. I think you can see how the results would vary with different lasers.

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Guest elroy

Eluzion,

I too had PRK and in fact was fine post-op. When El duderino says you have to be religious w/the eye drops, that is absolutely no kidding. Plus they just came out with better eye drops that will result in no post-op haze or halos/night blindness/oversensitivity to light. Something to watch out for...your PRE-operation refractive error. I would do some thorough checking with your cadre and evaluate with and eye doctor to see if you are a good candidate. Finally...you need at least a year between the surgery date and your catagorization date. Alot to think about, but well worth it. Please PM myself or El Dude if you have any questions.

-ElRoy

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Guest brucemcgehee

Has anyone out there had any experience with the military LASIK surgery at Wilford Hall or elsewhere? I'm a USAFR C-130 aircraft commander, currently on active duty orders, and am interested in having it done. Just curious if anyone has been through it and can give me the "DL" on the process and what it's like. I've read the info at http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/airforce/a/aflasik.htm and http://usmilitary.about.com/od/airforce/l/bllasersurgery.htm, which is good reading, but I would also like it from the horse's mouth if possible.

Thanks!

[ 03. February 2005, 11:18: Message edited by: Herk Daddy ]

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Guest Apollo

Don't fall to marketing dude. Lasik is as hell. The military does PRK for a reason. Lasik is just a derivative of PRK, anyway.

Lasik does have one serious advantage, and that is the healing time. You will be fully healed in a week, vs the usual 1-2 months. However, I was about 20/100 before my PRK surgery. I was 20/35 the day after, 20/20 each eye one week later.

My eyes continued to sharpen up little by little over time. I eventually settled at 20/15 each eye and 20/10 combine.

Don't think PRK is the "old" technique. Just because it was invented first doesn't mean it is less accute. Lasik had a period where it had a slight increase in the success rate, but those days are long gone. With the new medicated contact you wear, along with eye drop procedures, it is easy to turn extrelly high quality results. I am a case for that.

The only difference is that prk has you regrow the outer skin on your eye (fastest growing tissue in your bod). It takes a few days, but your eye recovers and they remove the contact they placed post surgery. You run eye drops for 3 months, but that's it. When your eye heals, it is no different than somebody who hasn't had the surgery with the exception of a slightly different curvature. With Lasik, you have scar tissue and that "flap" for the rest of your life.

That flap can even open under stress.

I hope this helps, my PRK waiver is the greatest thing to ever happen to me!

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Guest pilot2B

I was just down at Brooks doing the MFS w/my PRK and I ran into one person about to have Lasik through the AF. I believe he was a C-130 guy as well. As far as I know the process is similar to the PRK process. You get on the list, do some initial screening. Then you go down to brooks and do some more screening right before surgery. And then wam, 20/20 hopefully. Then 6 weeks later you are back to flying... Good luck w/it all. My surgery turned out great, but I have heard of others that it did not.

Cheers, P2B

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Guest F16PilotMD

LASIK is a better option. I'm not sure what the basis is of saying LASIK is gay as hell. Medically, that is simply nonsense. I wear glasses/contacts and would NEVER have PRK. Of course, I'm already 'in' (STS). The second they allow LASIK in the mainstream, I will get it. PRK has good outcomes but not as good or as often as LASIK. In the civilian world, I cannot find any ophthalmologist who would recommend PRK over LASIK.

Getting PRK so you can get into UPT always makes me nervous. It's currently the only way but there are so many landmines.

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Guest tgray

Herk Daddy, I've had LASIK in the civilian world, so even though it is the best deal around, becareful. Have you read A.F. Surgeon General Policy on LASIK? Check it out:http://www.brooks.af.mil/web/consult_servi...ided__00001.pdf It addresses Wave Front Guided LASIK, the only kind the A.F. will accept. Depending on the type of Herk you fly, it could have a major impact.

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Guest brucemcgehee

O.K., so here's another question for anyone who has an insight. I went to the document outlining the USAF SG policy (http://www.brooks.af.mil/web/consult_servi...ided__00001.pdf), and if I read it correctly it specifically excludes Herk drivers (C-130 is included in the no-no list). Does that mean LASIK is not an option for me, but PRK is? If anyone knows the answer I would appreciate your input.

Thanks!

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Guest pilot2B

Looks to me like unless you are in an EC-130 you are out of luck, but that is it... CHeers, P2B

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The doc that did my PRK was one of the first to start working with laser correction in Florida (I know that all docs say they are the best, blah..blah..blah). He tells me that PRK is a superior surgery based on the simplicity behind it (no flap). However, because of the increased healing time, religious steroid drops, and increased follow-up appointments it is not as popular as LASIK.

If I were you, I would look at what the military in general approves. I would then look for whomever has the best laser around. Remember not all lasers/trackers/mappers are the same and this is what is really doing the work. If your doc is really good he will have the lastest and gratest to include wavefront technology. If he tells you that it does not make a difference run away.

I had Wavefront PRK with 20/10 results in both eyes. Most people I know that has had PRK ended up with 20/15 and no worst than 20/20 for the rest. Now for the ones that had LASIK performed I cannot say the same. Remember, this is just my humble non-scientific/medical opinion. By the way I just realized that you are active and will be getting this done via the Air Force. I'm assuming that you are refering to the recently approved wavefront LASIK for rated aviators in less than 14,000 cabin pressure. Like I said, research this subject and if I were you, I would still go to a couple of civilian docs to see what they have to say. Usually these consultations are free of charge.

Good luck.

PD

Here's my for LASIK

[ 24. February 2005, 14:06: Message edited by: USMCAIRWINGER ]

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Guest mernest

I have to agree with those who are in favor of PRK. It may be an older technique but it presents the least amount of complications. I had PRK 18 months ago and now I'm a huge advocate of it. No complications at all. I went from 20/150 to 20/15 in less than a month. My healing time might have been a little longer than with someone who had LASIK but when it comes to my eyes it was well worth the extra time. I wasn't to keen on the idea of having a flap cut on the lens of my eyes which could later on present problems. I realize that LASIK is making big improvements in the way of wavefront technology. However this is new has hasn't yet developed a track record. PRK on the other hand has a very successful track record. As a pilot your eyes are everything. Choose wisely!

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Guest Falconvalley

I believe Lasik waivers are for non-ejection seat equipped aircraft. So, rated pilots will get the waiver, but non-rated will not because T-6 and T-37 are equipped with ejection seats.

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Guest Oface

I was down at Brooks last month, for my PRK waiver, and the eye docs told me that LASIK is being approved by the AF for current, rated, pilots only. They must also fly only a few specific airframes. The doc was not sure which planes exactly but he said it had to do with pressurization etc. Helos, and some heavies are being considered, no fighters or UPT equipment though. He said it would be a matter of time until LASIK is approved AF wide. However, I would bet that the pre-op limits would be similar to PRK since the surgeries are actually quite similar.

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Guest Spitfire

on a similar note...is Lasik allowed for FCIII? Or does FCIII have the same corrective eye surgery policy as FCI/FCII?

Edit: By "allowed" I mean "waiverable."

[ 04. May 2006, 19:00: Message edited by: Spitfire ]

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Guest doctidy

Its allowed FCIII as long with the same restrictions.

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Guest soonerpilot

I was speaking with an ANG F-15 pilot after taking my AFOQT, and he told me that there are a few waivers that have started going through for candidates who have had LASIK. I know that this would be a VERY recent change, as documents that date back to only a few years ago forbid LASIK for fighter pilots. I had the LASIK procedure done 6 years ago, my vision is 20/20, I passed my FAA flight physical with no vision issues at all. Does anybody know of any examples of F-15 candidates getting waivers for LASIK?

[ 19. July 2006, 02:06: Message edited by: soonerpilot ]

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