Note: this post is be kept for historical perspective. Links have been updated, but primary most current info I found at USAF CORNEAL REFRACTIVE SURGERY PROGRAM
The approved elective refractive surgical procedures although highly successful in general are not risk free. Furthermore RS is disqualifying for all classes of flying duties; waiver is required.
The USAF-RS program has three management groups: (1) Trained aviation and aviation-related special duty (AASD) personnel, (2) Applicants to AASD, and (3) Warfighter personnel. All AF personnel not specifically identified by both career status (AFSC) and identified aircrew duties (ASC) for AASD management are to be managed in accordance to Warfighter Program Management guidelines.
Civilians who for whatever reason are considering to have the surgery performed by a private practitioner before entering in serving a military obligation that results in an entry classification (job placement) into a specialty (AFSC) should become familiar with Air Force guidelines before having this surgery. Do your research as although the surgery may be successful it may not be eligible for the required waiver for entry classification (job placement) either because of inadequate before and after documentation or not meeting preoperative eligible for waiver criteria.
The following links are provided to make informative decisions, particularly if such surgery is being considered prior to enlisting or obtaining a military commission.ACCESSION MEDICAL WAIVERS FOR PRK AND LASIK USAF Corneal Refractive Surgery (USAF-CRS) Program Commander’s Authorization
Corrective eye surgery waiver approval determination connected to entry classification into a Battlefield Airman specialty is a bit more complicated than the aircrew criteria the Air Force focuses on in its corrective eye surgery fact sheets and other policy guidance publications. The Air Force provides insufficient emphasis and information pertinent to performing certain hazardous duties in every part of the world under harsh conditions at the extremes of human physical capabilities.
The following supplemental information is provided for those in process of deciding to get corrective eye surgery from a private practitioner prior to attempting entering into serving a military obligation. Please sustain situational awareness Air Force standards for such waivers are Battlefield Airman AFSC specific and not necessarily the same standard or criteria as the criteria below. AR 40-501: 5–6. Medical fitness standards for initial selection for free fall parachute training.
(4) Any history of Laser-Assisted in situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery is disqualifying.AR 40-50: 5–9. Medical fitness standards for initial selection for marine diving training (Special Forces and Ranger combat diving).
(4) Any history of Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery is disqualifying.Manual of the Medical Department U.S. Navy NAVMED P-117 24 Jan 2012: 15-66 Diving Duty.
(7) Diving Duty Standards
(a) General. Any disease or condition that causes chronic or recurrent disability for duty assignment or has the potential of being exacerbated by the hyperbaric environment or diving duty is disqualifying.
(c) Eyes and Vision
(1) All Divers must have a minimum corrected visual acuity of 20/25 in one eye.
(2) Minimum uncorrected visual acuity:
(a) DMO, basic diving officer, self contained undersea breathing apparatus (SCUBA) divers, hyperbaric exposure non-diver qualified: +1-8.00 diopters.
(b) Second Class diver, Navy Hospital Corpsman (NEC 8403-8427) assigned to diving duty, Army 21 series, Army or Air Force special operations: 20/20 in each eye.
(3) History of refractive corneal surgery is not considered disqualifying. However, candidates must wait 3 months following their most recent surgery (PRK or LASIK), have satisfactory improvement in visual acuity, and be fully recovered from any surgical procedure.
A designated diver must wait 1 month post-LASIK/PRK and be fully recovered from any surgical procedure with satisfactory improvement in their visual acuity prior to resumption of diving.Manual of the Medical Department U.S. Navy NAVMED P-117 24 Jan 2012: 15-105 Special Operations Duty.
(1) Characteristics. Special Operations (SO) duty takes place in every part of the world under harsh conditions at the extremes of human physical capabilities. Medical austerity and the presence of armed opposition are common. SO personnel, depending on service and warfare community, may engage the most high-risk operations including parachuting, static line rappelling, high-speed boat operations, employment of a variety of weapons, and diving. As such, SO is the most physically and mentally demanding duty in the U.S. military. Only the most physically and mentally qualified personnel should be selected, and those who are or may be reasonably expected to become unfit or unreliable must be excluded.Note:
For parachuting (including basic, military free-fall, and high altitude low opening), Army Regulation 40-501, Chapter 5, applies. SEAL, Navy EOD, and other SO personnel whose duty involves diving or maintaining a dive qualification must also be qualified under MANMED Chapter 15, article 15-102 (Diving Duty). Personnel who are SO qualified who do not dive or require dive qualification are not required to be qualified under MANMED Chapter 15, article 15-102.
(g) Depth perception (as determined in accordance with MANMED Chapter 15, article 15-85(1)(d)).
(1) Corrected visual acuity worse than 20/25 in either eye is disqualifying.
(2) Uncorrected visual acuity worse than 20/70 either eye
is disqualifying for SEAL and SWCC.
(3) Uncorrected visual acuity worse than 20/40 in the better eye is disqualifying for SEAL and SWCC.
(4) Uncorrected visual acuity worse than 20/200 in either eye is disqualifying for EOD, USMC RECON, and MARSOC.
(5) The visual acuity standard is not waiverable for SEAL and SWCC candidates.
(6) Deficient color vision is disqualifying. Waivers for color vision deficiency will not be considered for SEAL, SWCC, and EOD. Waiver requests for other duties must include a statement from the member’s supervisor stating that the member is able to perform his job accurately and without difficulty. For candidates, the attending UMO must include evidence that primary and secondary colors can be discerned.
(7) Symptomatic or functional night vision deficiency is disqualifying.
(8) Symptomatic or subjective loss of depth perception is disqualifying for candidates.
Functional or asymptomatic loss of depth perception in designated SO personnel may be considered for waiver.
(9) Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis(LASIK), LASEK, or intraocular lens implants (including Intraocular Collamer Lens Implants) within the preceding 3 months are disqualifying for candidates. Visual result from appliance or surgery must meet the above corrected acuity standards and the patient must be discharged from ophthalmology follow-up with a disposition of “fit for full duty” and requiring no ongoing treatment. Qualified SO Service members may return to duty 1 month after refractive corneal or intraocular lens implant surgery if they are fully recovered from surgery and have an acceptable visual outcome. No waiver is required in these cases.
(10) Glaucoma is disqualifying. Preglaucoma requiring no treatment and followup intervals of 1 year or more is not disqualifying.(12) Any acute or chronic recurrent ocular disorder which may interfere with or be aggravated by blast exposure or repetitive deceleration such as parachute opening or small boat maritime operations is disqualifying.
(13) Radial keratotomy is disqualifying.
(14) Keratoconus is disqualifying.