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The new role of refractive surgery in the military

Dr Daniel Black, an ophthalmologist working with LASERSIGHT Centres and an Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve, is calling for the military to embrace refractive surgery technology for its personnel.

Dr Black highlights the demanding nature of the military environment and the importance for the military to fully embrace refractive surgery for armed forces. Dr Black firmly believes good eye-sight is paramount for the survival of the individual and the unit. If you can see your enemy before he sees you or if you can see your enemy more clearly than he can see you, then you have the advantage.

Thirty to 40 per cent of people in the armed forces rely on some form of spectacles to perform their day-to-day tasks.

"The military is extremely strict on soldiers being in peak performing condition - mentally and physically - and yet visually impaired people are working on the front line. The Australian Army's best weapon is our soldiers and more time and investment should be spent on ensuring these professionals are at their optimum," says Dr Black.

"People in the armed forces are often working in dusty, dirty conditions with no running water or facilities for hygiene. Military equipment like nuclear, biological, & chemical protection suits and night vision goggles are often not compatible with glasses or contact lenses so soldiers are often fighting uncorrected," continues Dr Black.

Dr Black voices, "Now is the time for the military to embrace refractive eye surgery."

Refractive surgery would also assist in the recruitment of armed forces personnel. The most common reason for turning away otherwise suitable recruits is a refractive error meaning that surgery would enable the military to draw from a larger recruiting pool and overcome manpower shortages.

Dr Black has recently delivered a lecture on the role of refractive surgery in the military to a Brisbane audience on Anzac Day.

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