US Navy sees the light

March 1, 2007

The US Navy is proceeding with a programme allowing LASIK with IntraLase flap creation in naval aviators.

The US Navy is proceeding with a programme allowing LASIK with IntraLase flap creation in naval aviators. Until this point, PRK has been the preferred method of choice for refractive surgical correction.

Steven Schallhorn, MD of the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, US, speaking at the Hawaiian Eye 2007, discussed how the military has been reluctant to allow LASIK because contrast sensitivity took longer to be recovered postoperatively than after PRK. However, it was noted that there is a slow visual recovery period, of around three months, after PRK, whereas LASIK offers much faster recovery times.

Dr Schallhorn spoke of the technological advancements in LASIK. One large series study comparing conventional to wavefront-guided LASIK found that the addition of wavefront technology results in fewer higher-order corneal aberrations and therefore better postoperative vision. Another study found better quality of vision and faster visual recovery using the IntraLase femtosecond laser for flap creation compared with mechanical microkeratomes.

As a result of theses studies, the US Navy are prepared to begin a cautious programme allowing LASIK with IntraLase on naval aviators.