MYTH #5: It Is Unsafe to Fly Following LASIK

FACT: LASIK Has Been Approved for All Flight Activities

There is no reason to be concerned about flying after LASIK, as a passenger or as a pilot.  Airplane air is dry, so it is helpful to bring artificial tears with you when you fly, especially during the first 6 months after surgery.

An extreme example of LASIK flap safety while flying may be found in the experience of a naval flight officer who ejected from his F/A-18F Super Hornet at 13 000 feet at a speed in excess of 400 miles per hour.  His 7-year old LASIK flap was unharmed, and vision the next day was 20/15. [1]

Another study showed that 88% of pilots who land on aircraft carriers at night found their night vision to be better after LASIK with no glasses than they did with their glasses before surgery. [2]

7-years after LASIK, a Super Hornet naval flight officer ejects from an aircraft going in excess of 400 mph at 13,000 feet...

The next day, his LASIK flap was unharmed, and his vision was 20/15.

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Amongst 633 active-duty naval aviators who were treated with modern LASIK, 99.6% would recommend the treatment to others...

and 95% stated that LASIK had helped them be more effective at their job. 

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Title: Extreme LASIK flap stability

Article: “Laser in situ keratomileusis flap stability in an aviator following aircraft ejection.”

Authors: Christopher J Richmond MD, Patrick D Barker MD, Edgar M Levine MD, and Elizabeth M Hofmeister MD.

Précis: A 28-year-old male F/A-18F Super Hornet naval flight officer ejected from an aircraft at 13 000 feet at a speed in excess of 400 miles per hour  7 years after LASIK. His LASIK flap was unharmed, and vision the next day was 20/15.

Abstract: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrs.2016.10.001

Full reference: Richmond CJ, Barker PD, Levine EM, Hofmeister EM. Laser in situ keratomileusis flap stability in an aviator following aircraft ejection. Journal of Cartaract & Refractive Surgery. 2016;42(11):1681–1683. doi:10.1016/j.jcrs.2016.10.001.

Keywords: LASIK, Refractive Surgery, Flying, Safety

Article: LASIK in naval aviators

Authors: “Laser in situ keratomileusis in United States Naval aviators”

Précis: Amongst 633 active-duty naval aviators who were treated with modern LASIK, 99.6% would recommend the treatment to others and 95% stated that LASIK had helped them be more effective at their job.  Uncorrected vision was 20/20 for 98.3% of nearsighted and 95.7% of farsighted eyes by 3 months after surgery, and more than 1 in 3 gained at least 1 line of vision while just 0.4% (2 eyes) lost any vision.  Night vision after LASIK was reported to better than pre-surgery with glasses by 88% amongst these pilots whose job requirements include landing on aircraft carriers at night.

Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23664357

Full reference: Tanzer DJ, Brunstetter T, Zeber R, et al. Laser in situ keratomileusis in United States Naval aviators. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2013;39(7):1047-1058

Keywords: LASIK, Safety, Refractive Surgery

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