LASIK in the Military

Dr. Matthew Sharpe- Founder of SharpeVision

By Dr. Matthew R. Sharpe

September 16, 2021

LASIK in the military

LASIK and the military have been intertwined for the past 25 years. The benefits are obvious: when a soldier is in the field, glasses and contacts are a liability. If the soldier loses contact lenses or breaks glasses, it could be dangerous or lethal to the soldier and to their unit. In the military, laser vision correction is free and their military doctors have extensive experience. Generally speaking, soldiers are young and do very well with laser vision correction. LASIK in the military is encouraged because the military knows how much positive impact it has on the soldier, the unit, and entire combat readiness. How much “life-readiness” could laser vision correction have for those of you not in the military?

When PRK and LASIK were first performed in the United States, the military would only allow active-duty military to receive PRK, but not LASIK. The thinking was that if a soldier sustained ocular trauma and the flap was dislodged, that they could be at risk for impaired performance and a risk to the unit and to the mission. It’s a testament to the success of the procedure that LASIK is now allowed in active duty soldiers. The risk of flap dislocation is so minute and rare that the benefit outweighs the risk, even in military members who have life or death on the line if they sustained an eye injury. The two procedures of LASIK and PRK have identical outcomes, but differing recovery times. Your surgeon will make his or her recommendation based on a number of factors including your age, prescription, corneal thickness, anatomy of you eye, and orbit (bones and tissues surrounding your eyes). You can rest assured that your surgeon wants nothing more than to get you the best results and clearest vision with the lowest risk.

Steven C. Schallhorn, MD is a navy veteran and one of the pioneers of laser vision correction. He’s written literature documenting the results and benefits of laser vision correction in the military. He has written dozens of papers on the topic of LASIK in the military, one of which discussed pupil size and in regard to LASIK eye surgery military. You can read it here and also search for his other papers.

Dr. Schallhorn was instrumental in determining that the LASIK flap dislocation risk was extremely small. Patients were tested in G-force devices, wind tunnels, and other ways to show that the LASIK flap was secure. The military also weighs risks and benefits of LASIK and PRK. One of the benefits of LASIK is the shortest time to visual recovery of any vision correction surgery. The results of PRK are the same, but the recovery is slower, and the military decided that the risk to benefit ratio was worth it to have pilots and highly productive soldiers back in service more quickly.

LASIK military discount

Is our great pleasure at SharpeVision to give a LASIK military discount for active military, their families, and veterans. We are happy to treat veterans because VA LASIK eye surgery is not readily available and is not covered by the military. When patients ask, “Is laser eye surgery covered by the VA?” I am informed that laser eye surgery is not covered by the VA. Free LASIK for active duty military persons and their families is available, but free LASIK for veterans is not available in VA hospitals. LASIK eye surgery for veterans and military LASIK has made a tremendously positive impact on the patients who receive this gift, but also makes our country stronger through a more robust military. Our soldiers have an advantage that other countries may not: ours can see clearly without glasses or contacts. They can wear masks, helmets, and goggles without worrying. They can enter hazardous environments without worrying about their contacts or glasses impairing their vision. Imagine that! What if you are in a hostile or dangerous situation and your glasses snap in half when you put on your helmet, or they fall into the dirt or grease or mud. If you’ve had LASIK in the military, you’ll never have to worry about any of these scenarios!

In the military, there is a slang acronym for the military issued eye-ware: BCGs, or “Birth Control Glasses” because they are so ugly. That is potentially a thing of the past if all active duty members of the military have LASIK, ICL, or PRK. There is also a military discount for ICL surgery. We do a lot of implantable contact lens procedures at SharpeVision and are happy to offer that discount to our current and former military patients as well.

LASIK discounts are our small way of saying “Thank you!!” to our fellow citizens who have volunteered to help protect us and protect our way of life in the United States. At SharpeVision, we are privileged and honored to be able to help anyone, especially those in professions where wearing glasses or contacts is more than inconvenient, it’s potentially a life or death situation. We also offer the same discount to firefighters, police officers, first responders/EMTs, and teachers. We don’t appreciate you enough! Thank you for your service!

Take a look at our pricing page and then schedule your free comprehensive exam online or call us at 425-451-2020. You can have the same vision that Navy Seals, Army Rangers, and fighter pilots have. Always check with your commanding officer, and make sure the unit you want to be a part of allows LASIK, ICL, or PRK. Most allow it, but you definitely need to make sure.


Dr. Matthew Sharpe- Founder of SharpeVision

Dr. Matthew R. Sharpe

Dr. Matthew Sharpe is an Ophthalmologist specializing in refractive surgery and the owner SharpeVision MODERN LASIK & LENS, with offices in Seattle, Austin, and Chicago. Dr. Sharpe is a world traveler, pianist, marathon runner, motorcyclist, and fluent French speaker. He enjoys every second of life, but finds he is happiest at home cheering on The Ohio State Buckeyes with his wife, three children, and four dogs.
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