• By Elizabeth M. Hofmeister, MD
    Refractive Mgmt/Intervention

    This prospective study found that femtosecond-assisted wavefront-guided LASIK was an efficacious and safe option for refractive correction in Naval aviators, enabling a quick return to flight status.

    As a result of this study, femtosecond laser-assisted LASIK is now authorized in Naval aviators. Previously, PRK had been approved as a waiverable procedure for Naval aviators but no LASIK procedures had been approved.

    The study evaluated the safety and efficacy of femtosecond-assisted wavefront-guided LASIK in 330 Naval aviators with myopic astigmatism, hyperopic astigmatism and mixed astigmatism. All LASIK flaps were created with a femtosecond laser, and two excimer platforms were employed.

    Myopic and mixed astigmatism eyes achieved postoperative visual stability by two weeks postop, and hyperopic eyes achieved stability by four weeks postop.

    UDVA was 20/20 or better in 98.3 percent of eyes with myopia and mixed astigmatism, and in 95.7 percent of the hyperopic patients. Ninety-six percent of patients reported that LASIK had improved their effectiveness as a Naval aviator.

    The gain in CDVA was one or more lines in 39.2 percent, 41.1 percent and 30.4 percent of myopic, mixed astigmatic and hyperopic eyes, respectively. Loss of two lines of CDVA after surgery occurred in two myopic eyes. At three months, a mean change of ±0.03 µm and ±0.05 µm was observed in higher-order root mean square and primary spherical aberration, respectively.

    Due to the results of this study, Naval aviators who undergo LASIK can return to flight status after two weeks for myopic and mixed astigmatism patients and after four weeks for hyperopic patients. This could result in significant cost savings since Naval aviators can return to flight status much quicker compared to PRK, which requires a delay of at least three months.