Warfighter Eye Center (Refractive Surgery)
The Warfighter Eye Center Refractive Surgery and Research Program provides state of the art refractive surgery procedures to our aviators and warfighters.
Our center offers:
- Small Incision Lenticule Extraction (SMILE)
- Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK)
- Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)
All procedures aim to sharpen uncorrected vision and support optimal readiness to serve our Nation’s needs.
What is Refractive Eye Surgery?
Refractive surgery is a procedure to correct refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism) by reshaping the cornea – the clear outermost layer of the eye that functions like a window and focuses light.
What is SMILE, LASIK, and PRK?
Small Incision Lenticule Extraction (SMILE), Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK), and Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) are outpatient surgical procedures.
With SMILE, a laser is used to create a thin, contact lens shaped layer just beneath the corneal surface. That layer is then removed through a small opening, correcting your vision. The treatment is minimally invasive and requires no flap like LASIK.
With LASIK, a thin flap in the cornea is created by a femtosecond laser. The surgeon then folds back the flap and an excimer laser reshapes the cornea to correct the patient’s refractive error. The flap is then placed back in its original position and allowed to heal in place.
With PRK, the surface layer of the cornea is gently removed. The cornea is then reshaped by an excimer laser. A bandage contact lens is placed and the eye is allowed to heal.
Who is eligible for refractive surgery?
Eligible members include active duty service members in the:
- Any Allied Forces
National Guard and Reserve service members on active duty may be eligible. This includes both aviators and warfighters.
Members must complete a refractive surgery application package, which includes a commander’s authorization signed by their squadron commander with a rank of O-3 or above.
Air Force and Army members are required to have 6 months of active duty retainability; Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard members are required to have 12 months of active duty retainability.
- Members must be at least 21 years of age
- Stable glasses or contact lens prescription for greater than 12 months
- Willing and capable of complying with postoperative examinations for 12 months after surgery
Before applying for corneal refractive surgery (CRS), members must be aware there are 2 management groups, Aviation and Aviation Related Special Duty (AASD) Program
and the Warfighter Program.
Air Force AASD only
, in accordance with AF policy, prior to any CRS treatment (DOD or civilian), the application and receipt of "Permission to Proceed" authorization must be accomplished.
- An ophthalmologist will determine a member’s eligibility to proceed with refractive surgery
- Dependents and retirees are not eligible for refractive surgery