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Mid-Life Tune-Up

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Mid-Life Tune-Up

Old 27th Jul 2011, 19:16
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Mid-Life Tune-Up

Thinking about having [email protected] Eye Surgery come the end of the year but need to address the effects of the proposed Lens Replacement on my licence medical. Anyone got a definitive SIT-REP? UK CAA for preference.

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Old 27th Jul 2011, 22:55
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Be interested to hear the replies. The local advertising claims that LASIK is approved by NASA for astronauts so presumably it's ok for civvies?
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Old 27th Jul 2011, 23:28
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Anyone got a definitive SIT-REP?
Well ... not definitive, but some things to consider irrespective of govt issues. Been following this for some time with the thought of giving it a try. Here are some things that have slowed me down:

1. My AME (FAA aeromedical examiner) recommended strongly against it.
2. Correction may not be adequate - you may still need to wear corrective lenses full time or for near vision.
3. Possibility of "flaring" when looking at bright lights at night.
4. Possibility of medical complications.

I understand that some people report excellent results, but some do not. So if LASIK works as one would like, a great way to go. If not, results may be disappointing.

I have elected a different approach: rigid gas permeable multifocal contact lenses (RGPMFCL). These are not to be confused with the now more common and popular soft contacts, which I am told cannot provide as good a correction in many cases. Been wearing contacts since 1966 and the RGPMFCL variety since about 1985 with excellent results. The multifocal design corrects for both near and distant vision in the same lens, with the result that my vision is corrected to 20/15 acuity, and with no need for supplemental reading glasses at an age way past where these are usualy necessary. Contacts are not well tolerated by everyone, and may not be capable of providing the correction some need. These have been trouble free for me in all activities (except swimming!) and do not entail the risks associated with eye surgery.
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Old 28th Jul 2011, 04:57
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Thumbs up

I had LASIK surgery in '94 it was still fairly new then went from -12 & -14 to 20/20 & still 20/20 today, reading is fine in normal light, but if its dim light then I could use reading glasses but usually get more light on the topic which works fine. Very happy with my results I had a few issues with CAA then now CASA changing my medical status & clearing me to fly, I was grounded about 6 months but since then everything is great. I think the skills of the Doctor have the most to do with your results.
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Old 28th Jul 2011, 08:16
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I asked my AME about it 4 years ago and he said that the UK CAA were against it at the time as the failure rate was considered to be too high.

If you go ahead without CAA approval you could lose your licence for life, check with SRG at Gatwick for a definitive answer.

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Old 28th Jul 2011, 10:18
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You may also want to check your loss of licence insurance, as if anything should go wrong and you lose your licence some providers will consider the procedure as cosmetic surgery and you may not be covered.
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Old 28th Jul 2011, 12:32
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Anyone here have an opinion to share of PRELEX (Presbyopic lens exchange surgery)?
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Old 28th Jul 2011, 12:56
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I had Femto Lasik because of high astigmatism in 2008 and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Despite the warnings from my FAA AME and usual yada dada on the Internet, I decided to go for it and have no regrets.

I mostly did it to improve quality of life (sports etc) away from the controls. I was grounded for a while and after my surgeon declared me fully functional again I had to inform the FAA and show up at my AME. I am on FAA and HKCAD first class medical again and the limitation of 'wearing corrective lenses or spectacles and second set available' was removed...
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Old 28th Jul 2011, 20:08
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Unlike Geoffers, I no longer have to worry about a licence medical because I'm too old to fly CAT where I work, but I do still carry out training and checking in simulators. Last year I decided to rid myself of the tyranny of spectacles and contact lenses and had a refractive lens exchange procedure carried out in UK. I visited several eye surgeons for comparison of prices and opinions, but found that a well-known UK high street opticians chain offered the procedure at less than one third of what other surgeons wanted to charge. I paid less than 2,600 to have both eyes done, with the option of interest-free credit had I wanted. The surgeon, Professor is very experienced and each eye required less than 15 minutes for the surgical procedure to be completed under a mild sedative (though total time in the clinic was about 2 hours).
I suffered from presbyopia and was assessed as suitable for surgery after extensive testing both at my local high street opticians and at a surgery in London where I met Professor Venter. I was offered Tecnis multifocal intraocular lenses and as recommended had each eye done separately with about a 10 day gap in between.
The operation was completely painless and in the 9 months since I had it done I've had no complications or problems. I was able to read and text from my phone without spectacles the morning after the operation and the brightness of colours after my tired old yellowing natural lenses were replaced was fabulous
My vision has remained stable at better than 20/10 and I can see everything from small print in books, to my computer monitor to distant objects with crystal clarity. My night vision has also improved and I've given away all my old spectacles.
I travelled on a trans Atlantic flight only 3 days after the first eye was operated on and on a flight back to Nigeria 3 days after the second was done with no problems.
For me the transformation has been nothing short of miraculous. No more knocking my spectacles on the floor in the morning and hoping I don't tread on them as I get out of bed to look for them . No more dropping my soft contacts in the sink and hoping I can find them before they disappear down the plug hole and then cleaning them thoroughly again before the next attempt . I can wear any sunglasses I like without worrying about prescription lenses and I have the knowledge that my new lenses have built-in UV protection, I'll never have cataracts and I'll have the same vision as I had aged 19 for the rest of my days
Sadly I can't answer Geoffer's question as to how an AME would view my operation, but to anybody who has no such problems I can only totally recommend it
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Old 28th Jul 2011, 20:33
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is it a wise move - yes if it works

I asked the doc during my medical a couple of years ago about [email protected] eye surgery - His comment was a mate of his is one of the top UK eye surgeons - he wears glasses!
I know of three non pilots who have had it done - one is 20/20 after wearing bottle bottom specs for years and was perfect after a long weekend, another cannot drive at night as he cannot see properly when there are bright lights and the third they got it right on the second attempt (he also felt that the comercial aspect of the surgery meant that they did not tell him what could go wrong until it did)
It seems to me a bit like testing your ABS by driving at a cliff


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Old 28th Jul 2011, 22:32
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Hi Geoffers

"Mid-Life Tune-Up" you aiming for age 120 then

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Old 28th Jul 2011, 23:15
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Two office friends of mine had [email protected] eye surgery (both female) one because the other did. Both could see for miles afterwards and the first one (who really was relying on it to solve some eye problems) could see a fly speck at a 1000 metres but several months later couldn't see the fly at 10 metres and was back to wearing glasses. Second one is still as good as gold. I guess that sums up the risk and the choices you'll have to make....... Good luck!
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 01:59
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timely topic

Last week I ran into a friend and fellow pilot. He is a retired W4 and now flies EMS. The subject of glasses came up and he surprisingly informed me that he had recently had [email protected] surgery. He is far-sighted (due to presbyopia) as am I. He told me that the surgery for this condition is very new and that he knew of only 5 docs in the U.S. who are qualified to perform the surgery. One is in Chicago where we met up. I visited my eye doc last year and asked about the possibility of this surgery and at that time he informed that no such [email protected] surgery existed for presbyopia patients. I am very curious about it and would consider it as I am tired of wearing glasses, especially while flying with NVG's. It would be great for driving as well. I have a good friend who wore glasses for near sightedness since he was very young. About 20 years ago he had [email protected] surgery and has raved about it ever since. I've been hearing about and reading about the fears of the surgery, especially with regard to pilots ever since. I hope that the procedure has been perfected to a great degree from the early days and is now safe in most instances. Of course the right doc and clinic would be a must. For many years when I flew for NWA, we flew folks to Winnepeg for [email protected] surgery because there was a clinic there that offered the procedure for a great price. I am note sure if that is still the case. At any rate, good luck with your decision.

Last edited by grumpytroll; 29th Jul 2011 at 02:10.
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 04:56
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Another option to consider is PRK. It is more invasive (scalpels) though they claim fewer side affects and for a long time I believe it was the only recognised eye correction for US Airforce pilots (for what that's worth).

A colleague had it done earlier this year though he was pretty much out of action for a month.
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 06:15
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Thanks Maverick.. That explains the Coast Guard colored Tomcat I saw on the Intrepid

I did mean PRK though was clearly wrong about the scalpel vs. [email protected]
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 09:10
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For what it's worth, my other half (who is not a pilot) had [email protected] about 12 years ago in SA (so one of the earlier techniques). She suffered a slight drop in night vision, although her daytime vision was markedly increased, and she got rid of her glasses. She has started wearing glasses again in the last few years, primarily for reading, although I believe they're lower strength than before.
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 10:11
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safer alternative ?

A company called Presbia are performing mimimally invasive surgery to implant a tiny corrective lens in the cornea of your non -master eye which improves near vision dramatically (so the advert says!) and takes 10 minutes to perform under local anaesthesia.The big attraction appears to be the ease of removal ,if it all goes pear- shaped.Has anybody any practical knowledge of the results??
[email protected] surgery of any type seems to be variable in the resuilts which appear to depend on your unique reaction to the healing process.
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 11:43
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This is interesting stuff.........

Hummingfrog - Ever the optimist. I feel like a slightly tired version of my 25-year old self...... until i look in the mirror! But specs are driving me crackers and working on the old Jag - upside down with just a wander-light to see by - is no fun any more.

I have just two years of CAT flying left before the dreaded 65 comes up but could well need a medical certificate for many more years as it is a requirement to fly the company aircraft and as a sim instructor I don't need a licence but I do need to fly to maintain currency. Looks like a delay is in order and sounds a sensible compromise even though my 500 deposit will go down the Swannee.

My thanks to all who contributed to the debate.

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Old 29th Jul 2011, 14:20
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From a PPL standpoint it knocks out the Class II for just 3 months nowadays. Not sure about the Class I situation though.

My mrs had it done at Moorfields (if you're going to get it done, go to the best damn place you can...) with their pewpew technology using 2 [email protected] to first open the cornea and then shave the lens.

She had a little "ghosting" around the eye initially but has better eyesight than I do now (I wear contacts).
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 14:32
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I had always been short-sighted and had LASIK surgery two years ago.

The results were great and I wish I'd had it done years earlier.

It's not just aviation, it makes a big difference for driving and playing tennis. My eyesight after LASIK is better than it was with glasses.

The LASIK surgery was done by Noel Alpins, who is also a CASA Opthomologist. I did a Google search first and found he had published many papers on the topic and found no record of complaints.

Dr Alpins was great, and probably the best in Melbourne, but also seems to charge twice as much as others.

No flying for a month after surgery until a checkup by the surgeon and an Optometrist. CASA told me different things, but eventually, after a couple of calls, the medical paper work was sorted out.

Yes, at night lights can appear a but "starry", but overall it is great.
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