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Corrective eye surgery wait times reduced

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- The Air Force currently offers active duty members two types of corneal refractive surgery to correct near-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism. Refractive surgery eliminates the need for glasses, contacts, prescription inserts for night vision goggles and ballistic eyewear thereby enhancing mission and deployment readiness.

CRS is now offered at six bases across the continental United States, the once lengthy wait times have been reduced to mere weeks.

The two different surgical procedures, laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis and photorefractive keratectomy, are offered at all six bases and provide 95 percent of patients with 20/20 vision or better.

Following a comprehensive eye exam, the optometrist will determine if the member meets the initial criteria to return for a surgical evaluation.

To be eligible, members must be 21 years old and have a stable spectacle prescription for at least 12 months. In addition to meeting other pre-screening criteria; several medical conditions such as diabetes and other autoimmune disease which affect the critical healing process following the surgery are disqualifiers. Also, certain medications are disqualifying if they have been used within the past six months.

Members who are pregnant or nursing are not immediately eligible because their glasses prescription is subject to change.

Before returning for a surgical evaluation, members must complete a refractive surgery application, obtain their squadron commander's approval and complete a managed-care agreement form. These forms are available on the Knowledge Exchange website https://kx2.afms.mil/kj/kx1/AFRefractiveSurgery/Pages/home.aspx-. The Knowledge Exchange offers additional information on the differences in the surgical procedures and the logistics of the entire process.

Finally, before the evaluation contact lens wearers must discontinue wear for at least two weeks, or sometimes longer depending on the type of contact lens.,.

Additional questions regarding the risks, side effects and specifics of the surgery as well as the differences between LASIK and PRK are addressed during the surgical evaluation.

Following surgery, members are non-deployable for up to four months depending on the procedure and how quickly they heal. As several follow-up examinations are required immediately after the surgery to ensure proper healing, members must have at least six months service commitment remaining after the date of surgery and not be eligible for deployment or permanent change of station.

For more information and to schedule a comprehensive examination to see if a member qualifies, please contact the optometry clinic at Mike O'Callaghan Federal Medical Center at 702-653-3010.

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