Military Lauds New Laser Eye Surgery

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Permitted For Some Pilots...

Gone are the days when laser eye surgery meant an automatic disqualification for would-be military pilots. A more sophisticated version we told you about in May 2003, called wavefront-guided LASIK, is now being used by Air Force doctors as a "performance enhancement" procedure designed as "an improvement to the human weapon system." The Air Force now allows (in fact, seems to encourage) the procedure for pilots who don't fly high-performance or training aircraft, but does not allow it for "those whose aircraft have cabin altitudes potentially above 14,000 feet." The new procedure does a better job of precisely adjusting for the small aberrations on the cornea that can throw off vision. It does so by creating a map of the corneal surface to guide the laser. Conventional LASIK surgery relies on the person's prescription for glasses. Laser surgery was approved by the Air Force for non-flying personnel in 2000 and extended to low-altitude pilots last June.