View Full Version : [email protected] eye surgery

19th Sep 2008, 22:03
I am usually a contact lens wearer and thought I always would be. After all I thought that as long as I could keep putting a piece of plastic in my eye every day, why would I want to risk laser surgery?

I can't get on with my glasses as a permanent solution. They always get dirty, fall off, make my nose and ears sore.

I have been to the opticians for a check up and been told that my contact lens wearing habits are damaging my eyes caused by the lack of oxygen. I have a strong astigmatism, which means I have to wear toric lenses that are biased. If they go off kilter, so does my vision. If keep them in for longer than twelve hours, they go greasy and severely blur my vision. All in all a bit of a pain in the preverbial.

So I am asking my fellow prooners what experiences you may have had with laser eye surgery? Can professional pilots have it done now? I believe that you couldn't get a class 1 medical if you had undergone it, but maybe it's changed now. Any horror stories out there? I'm not a professional pilot, but an engineer so it won't affect my medical status. I would like to hear some opinions on it though.

Gertrude the Wombat
19th Sep 2008, 22:08
I can't get on with my glasses as a permanent solution. They always get dirty, fall off, make my nose and ears sore.
They can get dirty, yes, if you've got long and greasy eyebrows.

But if they "fall off, make my nose and ears sore" then the solution is to get a decent pair made instead of the rubbish ones that are giving you these problems. (Admittedly finding a competent optician can be a bit of a challenge sometimes, but there are some out there.)

Rather be Gardening
19th Sep 2008, 22:21
Winglit, I can't answer re the professional pilot aspect, but like you I found that long-term lens wearing was damaging my eyes. Looked into the laser treatment and 18 months ago went to Ultralase. The results have been amazing - after 30 years wearing lenses, it's just brilliant waking up to clear vision every day. Happy to pm you, if you want, with details about the actual procedure. Ultralase aren't the cheapest, by a long shot, but they have the best aftercare package. They also offer some discounts (eg, to MOD).

19th Sep 2008, 22:25
I have to say that I tend to agree with Getrude.... :O

I have pretty bad eyesight - short sighted, as well as a fair old degree of astigmatism, plus the fact that I wear more behind my ears than most peeps, being a hearing aid wearer and i don't seem to have a problem with the glasses that I use. I also switch between glasses and contacts depending on my mood, but generally use glasses for 'every day wear'.

it does sound that you perhaps need to review the type of spectacles that you wear. There are so many different styles, shapes, sizes and also various types of lens coatings. If you have to have fairly thick lenses like myself you can pay a few quid extra to have them made a lot thinner and lighter.

Maybe a bit of research into both changing your opticians as well as your frames and lenses might be in order? :)

19th Sep 2008, 22:34
I hear you gertrude and radar,

But I don't want to wear glasses. I don't like them.

19th Sep 2008, 22:36
I cannot speak of laser eye surgery, however, I have had cataract surgery performed on both of my eyes. The surgery was 100% painless and full vision was restored completely in less than 24 hours. The pilots that I know that have had laser surgery had the same results. There is additional eye exam involved for a FAA First and Second Class physical after the procedure is performed, then just the normal eye exam that is standard with any class physical.

However, the last I heard, laser eye surgery is an automatic medical disqualification for military pilots. This could have changed.

Um... lifting...
19th Sep 2008, 23:51

You are mistaken on this one. I instructed in the Naval Air Training Command from 2002-2005. U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen who ended up being my students (poor devils... I should have bought them a bottle of booze instead of the other way 'round) were getting PRK done as a matter of course while at the Naval Academy at that time for accession into aviation and special warfare, I believe the other officer accession programs had similar arrangements. I chatted with a couple of my students to just get sort of a handle on it from a pilot point of view and also talked with the flight surgeon. Haven't had any eye surgery myself, but with near vision that has recently deteriorated to barely superhuman and distance vision at this point in life around 20/30, I haven't felt the need.
It is also my understanding the the U.S. Air Force had in effect a similar program. LASIK was under evaluation during that timeframe but was not yet approved, nor was it clear if it would be. I may have an email from my flight surgeon pal floating around and if I can find that I will post it here along with its date after redacting the various personal data.
I haven't kept up with it so I don't know how it is now nor what other more advanced techniques might be out there and have been approved, but I can ask if I really want to know. The Navy was concerned with structural effects of G-loading on the eyeball which is why they never approved RK.

There were very specific restrictions (which I do not have committed to memory, so do not trust the following fully) such as it had to be done by an approved military physician in a military hospital and so on and so forth. Again, this was for U.S. military pilots only, but they tend to be more restrictive (at least in the U.S.) than civil AME or FAA requirements.

20th Sep 2008, 00:03
That is why I placed this disclaimer at the end, because I wasn't sure it was still that way.

However, the last I heard, laser eye surgery is an automatic medical disqualification for military pilots. This could have changed.

Very good news Um... lifting.... I'm very glad that they changed the regs. :ok:

(Remember, I'm an old fart. :p)

Um... lifting...
20th Sep 2008, 00:18
Sadly, so far as I can determine, I don't have that email anymore. But anyway, anyone looking to have eye surgery done to be a civil pilot, do be wise and check with the appropriate AME before doing so.
Anyone looking to become a military pilot (at least in the U.S.), do NOT, under any circumstances, go out and get surgery done on your own... that is a SURE disqualifier... any opthalmologist can tell in a nanosecond if you've had anything done.

Con, I stand corrected for any appearance of implying that you didn't have an appropriate disclaimer in place in your email. Should you come to the FL Panhandle, I am in your debt and shall buy you a double scotch of your choice at McGuire's (or other appropriate venue)... and since I know you hate to drink alone, you can buy me same.:ok:

20th Sep 2008, 00:35
and since I know you hate to drink alone, you can buy me same.:ok:

Now, that is an invite I'll never turn down. :ok:

(That's why I like beer bets, cause no one ever loses on a beer bet.)

20th Sep 2008, 01:27
I had LASIK performed at age 38.

Went from 20/400 (since about age 10 - chicks dug the 'coke-bottle' glasses look :{) to 20/15 and 20/20 (l-r eyes). Best thing I ever did for myself.

As age creeps up, however, I find a pair of reading glasses helpful for long periods of computer time or reading.

PRK is accepted by the US militaries for all aviation positions and LASIK has gained acceptance by all but the USAF (which is finishing up its position to accept it, I believe).

The US military is also, under some instances, paying for non-flyers to have the eye surgery as it enhances combat readiness - gas masks fit better and there's less chance of 'fogging' up when only dealing with the mask shield vs. the shield and a pair of BCGs (birth control glasses - see above for chicks digging 'em.).

The FAA accepts PRK/LASIK as long as vision is normal following the procedures. See the FARs regarding specifics or ask your flight doc.

20th Sep 2008, 03:07
I think your first step should be a visit to an opthalmologist (MD specialising in eyes) or, at the very least an optometrist (degree in optometry). You seem to have several problems with your eyes that need expert care and going to an optician (person who tests your eyesight and dispenses glasses) isn't really going to help. Not sure how it works in your country but (here in Oz) if you go to an optometrist, he or she can then refer you to an opthalmologist who can advise you fully on your options and give you all the info you need. Gotta look after those peepers, mate, so get yerself seen by a good eye specialist. He or she will also be able to tell you about any problems, failure rates, success rates etc. as far as the Lasik surgery is concerned and will (or should) answer all your questions fully.

Loose rivets
20th Sep 2008, 03:16
Geeeess, your lucky to get serious answers on Jet Blast. Masses about it on the medical forum over the years.

My pal didn't want to wait a year to get his Class 1 back, (UK) so he had it done at age 65. I have known him since he was 5, and he's never had such good eyesight.

There are lens implants in front of the natural lens, that have to be taken seriously nowadays.

There is I believe a limit on the error PRIOR to the surgery. Outside this, and it's no-go for lasik.

Keeping the angle edit(of contact lenses) correct is, or used to be, done by gravity and contour. Totally unreliable for a critical job, despite people having reasonable success with them for years. Depends of course on how far out you would be if they rotated at a bad time.

Lance Murdoch
20th Sep 2008, 10:27
Best place to look is on the CAA website. As I understand it for a UK Class 1 medical laser surgery is acceptable provided that before surgery your eyesight could be corrected (i.e. with glasses) to Class 1 standard.

Eyesight can deteriorate quickly, when I joined the senior service at age 18 I had 20/20 vision, by the age of 21 I need glasses to drive a car. Ive always needed glasses to fly and I have considered laser surgery but decided to wait until I need to wear glasses all the time which Im guessing will probably be in about 5 - 10 years time.

The only thing that worries me about laser surgery is that no one knows if there are any long term effects hence why I think for now glasses are the safer option.

20th Sep 2008, 16:21
It's not a case of paying your and having the procedure. I went for a consultation, they weren't happy with a very very slight bleed at the back of my eye so would not touch me.

Further tests at local hospital say, nothing to worry about. I'm still trying to obtain a copy of this report to take back to the laser clinic. I still want the procedure. Being short sighted does have a number of draw backs for me. Such as swimming/photography.

Makes me wonder, I don't want to start a political/moral debate but people can receive free (limited attempts) IVF treatment. Seems a bit unfair to me why laser correction is not available on the NHS. Maybe for circumstances where ones employment is an eye sight requirement.

Such as HGV/PCV drivers, thanks to the EU these drivers have to attain a standard with glasses on and off (short-sightedness) below the standard with glasses off, you loose your licence. Years of driving work lost in seconds at the medical. Whereas a simple procedure that may take fifteen minutes could keep these people in work.

I'm not saying free laser treatment for all. And not forgetting the profesional driver may not have 2-3k to spare. Ignore the ads where they state 'from 325' per eye. It's more wonga than that, think a couple of grand.

20th Sep 2008, 18:37
I can't have laser eye surgery.

I don't have laser eyes.

20th Sep 2008, 20:09
dazdaz, I think you should be very cautious. I agree that the following is not about laser surgery.

A friend had cataract surgery a few months ago which was terminal in mid-stream. There was bleeding, for a while it seemed that the retina had detached. He now has no lens in that eye but it is starting to be able to tell light and dark again. The docs agree with him that trying to insert a new lens is too risky, at least for the time being.

20th Sep 2008, 21:17
I had an eye damaged while in the Air Force and wear a contact in one eye that can be worn for at least a month. As I was on SAR this was the perfect solution, the lens does not have to be removed every 12 hours but stays in until it starts to give trouble It is a "Night and Day"" prescription. Try it before you go for laser.

Onan the Clumsy
21st Sep 2008, 00:32
I should look into it because my eyesight is terrible

Loose rivets
21st Sep 2008, 02:29
Perhaps if it wasn't, you wouldn't be so bloomin' clumsy :}

22nd Sep 2008, 15:54
Intacs are insertable segments of plastic under the "skin " of the eye. My understanding is that FAA medics allow a return to flying after days not months after the procedure, and the shape of the inserts can be exchanged in the event of prescription change. If you do not like them they can be removed. No loss of part of the eyeball as in LASIK, the eye is an amazingly fast-healing piece of kit and it seems like a great alternative to either contacts or surgery as it is reversible. All hearsay but have read up some on the web - just google INTACS for the gen.
Best of luck!

22nd Sep 2008, 16:42
Had LASIK done in Dec 2001 through Ultralase,(best money I have ever spent), got class1 medical April 2002, although I had to go back to the CAA Dec 2002 for a check.

Everything was fine and I started the ATPL's that September and I am currently flying 757-200, so it is feasible to have this proceedure done and for the CAA to accept it.

I had to wear glasses all the time before the surgery. It has definitely changed my outlook on life and saved me a fortune in glasses and contact lenses.


22nd Sep 2008, 18:25
Be different!

Wear a monocle.

27th Sep 2008, 19:35
Winglet, a thought from a different direction. On at least two occasions, my spectacles may have saved my eyesight - one time was desoldering some tags, pulling soldering iron tip toward me to pry off old wire, came off tag unexpectedly and splashed molten solder across my cheek, right spectacle lens, and forehead.

So if you're a hands-on engineer and you do manage to get rid of your hated glasses, don't forget the protective effect you've lost......


27th Sep 2008, 19:51
A relative of mine is in the Business (Teaches blind and visually impaired) and she says she won't touch it until the eye surgeons start to use laser surgery themselves. Apparently most of them think that long term effects are still unknown. Of course, long term varies according to how long you expect to be around.http://static.pprune.org/images/smilies/confused.gif?

29th Oct 2008, 06:08
great tips. I enjoyed reading this

lasik vision (http://icondenver.com/)

29th Oct 2008, 14:07
Not sure where you are, but if you do decide on surgery I would strongly recommend visiting Moorfields in London. They do the standard laser treatments of course, but are experts in every other field as well. If there are any contra-indications they will tell you, and in the unlikely event that anything should go wrong you couldn't be in better hands. I speak from personal experience of their ability.