Long-Term Outcomes of Refractive Surgery Performed During the Military

Mil Med. 2019 Dec 1;184(11-12):e808-e812. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usz096.


Introduction: To evaluate the long-term refractive results of laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) performed by the military in a veteran population.

Materials and methods: Three Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital sites (Puget Sound, Buffalo, and Washington D.C.) obtained IRB approval for this multi-center study. Comprehensive ophthalmologic assessment including refraction and keratometry were obtained at the time of the long-term VA examination and compared to the patients' postoperative military records.

Results: Eighty patients (160 eyes) enrolled in this study. At the time of treatment, patients were 21-52 years of age. Long-term post-operative data was available from 4 to 17 years post-operatively. Fifteen percent of the treatment types were LASIK and 85% PRK. At the time of their military post-operative exam (range 3-14 months, mean 4 months), 82% of patients had uncorrected visual acuity (UCVA) of 20/20 or better, and their average manifest refraction was -0.08 D (SD ± 0.48 D). At the time of the long-term ophthalmological exam at the VA medical centers (range 4-11 years, mean of 8.2 years), 49% of patients had an UCVA of 20/20 or better and an average manifest refraction was -0.64 D (SD ± 0.69 D).

Conclusion: This is the first long-term study evaluating refractive surgery outcomes up to 17 years in a military population. Our study demonstrates safety after refractive surgery in the military with less than 0.1D increase in myopia per year and strong keratometric stability. Other changes in the eye may be the likely cause for this observed mild refractive shift.


MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • District of Columbia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Keratomileusis, Laser In Situ / methods
  • Keratomileusis, Laser In Situ / standards
  • Keratomileusis, Laser In Situ / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Myopia / complications
  • Myopia / surgery
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Photorefractive Keratectomy / methods
  • Photorefractive Keratectomy / standards
  • Photorefractive Keratectomy / statistics & numerical data
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Period
  • Refractive Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Refractive Surgical Procedures / standards*
  • Refractive Surgical Procedures / statistics & numerical data
  • Time*
  • Treatment Outcome