Career impact does your job prohibit
Eye conditions do you have or have you
ever had any problems with your eyes other than needing glasses or
Medications do you take steroids or
other drugs that might prevent healing?
Stable refraction has your prescription
changed in the last year?
High or low refractive error do you use
glasses/contacts only some of the time? Do you need an unusually strong
Pupil size are your pupils extra large
in dim conditions?
Corneal thickness do you have thin
corneas? (not everyone has sufficient corneal thickness)
Some Risks and Procedure Limitations
Overtreatment or undertreatment are you
willing and able to have more than one surgery to get the desired
After treatment, you may still need reading
glasses do you have presbyopia?
Results may not be lasting do you think
this is the last correction you will ever need? Do you realize that
long-term results are not known?
You may permanently lose vision some
patients may lose some or all vision, experience blindness.
Development of visual symptoms glare,
halos, starbursts, etc.; night driving might be difficult.
Contrast sensitivity vision could be
significantly reduced in dim light conditions.
Bilateral treatment there are
additional risks of having both eyes treated at the same time.
Patient information read the patient
information booklet about the laser being used for your procedure.
Finding the Right Doctor
Medical doctor is your doctor a
Professional care will you be seen by
the surgeon at all visits before and after surgery?
Experienced how many eyes has your
doctor performed LASIK surgery on with the same laser?
Equipment does your doctor use an
FDA-approved laser for the procedure you need?
Informative is your doctor willing to
spend the time to answer all your questions?
Long-term care does your doctor
encourage follow-up and management of you as a patient?
Be comfortable do you feel you know
your doctor and are comfortable with an equal exchange of information?
The FAA expects that airmen
will not resume piloting aircraft until their treating health care
professional determines that their post-operative condition has
stabilized, there are no significant adverse effects or complications,
and the appropriate vision standards are met. When this determination is
made, the airman should have the treating health care professional
document this in the health care record, a copy of which should be
forwarded as soon as possible to the Aeromedical Certification Division.
If the health care professional's determination is favorable, the airman
may resume flight duties, unless informed otherwise by the FAA.
If the procedure was done
between regularly scheduled FAA physical exams, the airman must provide
a report to the FAA from the treating health care professional to
document the date of surgery, any adverse effects or complications, and
when the airman returned to flying duties. If the report is favorable
and the airman meets the appropriate vision standards, the airman may
resume flight duties, unless informed otherwise by the FAA.
If the procedure was done two
years ago, or longer, the FAA may accept the aviation medical examiner's
A complete ophthalmologic
evaluation (with a written report) is required to demonstrate stable
visual acuity and lack of deleterious sequelae. The evaluation must
include tests of visual acuity, field of vision, night glare, and
haziness of vision. There should be no other pathology of the affected
Preoperative, Operative, and Post-operative
Do not wear contact lenses
just prior to evaluation and surgery can you go for an extended
period of time without wearing contact lenses?
Have a thorough exam
have you arranged not to drive or work after the exam?
Read and understand the
informed consent has your doctor given you an informed consent form
to take home, carefully read, and completely answer your questions?
No makeup before surgery
can you go 24-36 hours without makeup prior to surgery?
Arrange for transportation
can someone drive you home after surgery?
Plan to take a few days to
recover can you take time off to recuperate for a couple of days if
Expect not to see clearly
for a few days can you handle the problems associated with fuzzy
Know the sights, smells,
sounds of surgery has your doctor made you feel comfortable with the
actual steps of the procedure?
Be prepared to take
drops/medications are you willing and able to put drops in your eyes
at regular intervals?
Be prepared to wear an eye
shield you need to protect the eye for a period of time after
surgery to avoid injury.
Expect some pain/discomfort
do you know how much pain to expect?
Know when to seek help
do you understand what problems could occur and when to seek medical
Know when to expect your
vision to stop changing final results could take up to months.
Make sure your refraction
is stable before any further surgery if you don't get the desired
result, do you know not to have an enhancement until the prescription
1 Nakagawara, VB,
Wood, K.J., and Montgomery, R.W. LASIK Refractive Surgery: Clinical
Considerations for the Pilot. 1998. Oklahoma City, OK: Federal Aviation
Air Surgeon's Medical Bulletin, 9804, pp. 10-11.
2 For current
information about LASIK, visit the FDA's Web site: http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/lasik
The Federal Air Surgeon's
Medical Bulletin Spring 2001