Refractive Surgery in the United States Army, 2000 - 2003

Purpose: To examine the history, current status, outcomes, and future direction of the Army Waefighter Refractive Eye Surgery Program (WRESP), which was established to reduce the limitations posed by corrective eyewear in combat arms soldiers.

Participants: Sixteen thousand one hundred eleven Army service members who underwent refractive surgery between May 2000 and September 2003.

Methods: Results were collected from monthly reports and from questionnaires administered to refractive surgery patients returning from deployments to southeast Asia. Soldiers rated the impact of refractive surgery on their ability to perform select operational tasks as well as their overall readiness.

Main Outcome Measures: Visual acuity (VA) and patient satisfaction.

Results: Between May 2000 and September 2003, 32,068 eyes of 16,111 soldiers were treated. Postoperative uncorrected VA was better than or equal to 20/20 in 85.6%, 20/25 in 92.4% and 20/40 in 98.2% of eyes with at least 3 months follow-up, and 93.7% of 175 surveyed patients rated their overall readiness better or much better after surgery.

Conclusions: This program has provided excellent outcomes and enhanced the overall readiness of over 16,000 Army service members. Reports of night vision difficulties, LASIK flap dislocation, and dry eye are infrequent, and do not seem to have a significant negative impact on military operations or individual readiness.

Ophthalmology 2005; 112:184-190 © 2005 by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

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