Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

MHS refractive surgery experts discuss warfighter readiness

Image of Mr. McCaffery looking at a monitor with an eye on it Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Thomas McCaffery observes the beginning stages of a refractive surgery at the Warfighter Refractive Surgery Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Oct. 21. The center is the largest refractive training program in the Department of Defense and has trained and certified more than 150 refractive surgeons. (Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Amanda Stanford, 59th Medical Wing.)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Vision Loss | Readiness Capabilities

More than 200 participants from around the military ophthalmology and optometry communities gathered virtually on Jan. 8 to share ideas for the first time since the beginning of the transition to the Defense Health Agency.

The group participated in the “Refractive Surgery – Excellence for the Warfighter” virtual meeting where they discussed the latest techniques, safety protocols, and standards for refractive surgery. The meeting provided an opportunity for colleagues to share their experiences and get advice from experts, and was held in place of the annual Military Surgery Safety and Standards Symposium.

“We’ve been meeting since 2007 to talk about our best practices, our standards, lessons learned and safety,” said Army Maj. (Dr.) Gary Legault, Army Refractive Surgery Program manager and refractive surgery consultant to the Army surgeon general. “We emphasize key safety issues with the laser platforms and with our treatments and share the latest and greatest technology and updates.”

Refractive surgery is any surgery that eliminates the need for glasses or contact lenses. Refractive surgeries include LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), ICLs (implantable contact lenses), and SMILE (small incision lenticule extraction).

Within the Military Health System, these procedures are designed to improve the functionality, lethality, and combat readiness of the warfighter through improving their visual system. Refractive surgery is offered at no cost to qualifying service members with conditions including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

Legault explained that his hope was for the meeting to produce practical lessons that those in attendance could use on a regular basis.

“We hope this helps the people in attendance from around the world of military ophthalmology and refractive surgery learn something new that they can apply to improving their practice with their patients,” Legault said.

Among the positive outcomes from the MHS’s transition to the DHA is a tri-service effort to standardize refractive surgery across the DOD.

“For us, it’s a benefit as the DHA helps us improve our standardization and create a standard experience across the board as well as become more efficient,” Legault said. “I think the DHA can help us improve our outcomes by sharing best practices and working together as a group.”

Navy Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Tyler Miles, research director and division officer for Naval Medical Center San Diego’s Refractive Surgery Center, agreed.

“This is an opportunity for us to all come together and share what we’re doing. We have different flavors amongst the different services, and it’s nice to be able to share our gains across the board,” Miles said.

Paramount among the improvements resulting from the transition, is having a refractive surgery board at the DHA level, he explained.

“We now have a formal voice at that tri-service level, so that might bring some formal processes that empower our programs more than before,” Miles said.

As with many other areas of military medicine, COVID-related impacts to refractive surgery include a shift to a more virtual-heavy way of conducting consultations and pre-surgery briefs.

Legault said that the most important aspect what they do is improving combat readiness.

“We want to improve the warfighter in order for them to be better at their occupation, and we want commanders and leaders to know that we are here to help,” he said. “We’re here to assist.

“It can literally mean life and death where you can see your enemy through improved visual function versus your glasses fogging up or falling off,” Legault said. “These are procedures that can make a huge difference and occur within minutes.”

Miles agreed, saying, “This is one of the few instances where we’re actually enhancing the warfighter. We’re not just fixing them up and keeping them healthy, we’re making them better. We’re providing an enhancement by making them less reliant on glasses and contact lenses, which, although they’re effective in giving you clearer vision, may be a liability in certain areas where our folks are operating.”

Proof for him that their programs are headed in the right direction, he said, is in the outcomes he’s seen.

“You just have to spend a day in a clinic seeing post-operative patients,” Miles said. “They’ll tell you that it is life-changing to be able to wake up in the morning and open their eyes and see clearly, aside from the performance advantage that it’s giving our military.”

You also may be interested in...

DGMC medical study looks at plant-based diet

Article
12/3/2020
Man wearing mask and gloves putting container of salad into salad bar

Researchers measured important cholesterol, weight and blood pressure markers at baseline and at 4-weeks.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Health Readiness | Nutritional Fitness

Navy Corpsman helps maintain USS Albany readiness

Article
12/2/2020
Soldier wearing a stethoscope on a submarine

Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Matthew Carter is currently serving aboard Albany as an IDC.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Readiness Capabilities

METC improves surgical tech training with new laparoscopy standard

Article
12/1/2020
Surgical team in operating room

A laparoscopy is a low-risk, non-invasive surgical procedure used to examine organs inside the abdomen and repair or remove tissue.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Health Readiness | Research and Innovation | Technology

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 12 - December 2020

Report
12/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Cases of coronavirus disease 2019 and comorbidities among Military Health System beneficiaries, 1 January 2020 through 30 September 2020; Characteristics of U.S. Army beneficiary cases of COVID-19 in Europe, 12 March 2020–17 April 2020; Air evacuation of service members for COVID-19 in U.S. Central Command and U.S. European Command from 11 March 2020 through 30 September 2020; SARS-CoV-2 and influenza coinfection in a deployed military setting— Two case reports.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

BAMC recognized by American College of Surgeons for outstanding care

Article
11/27/2020
Medical team, wearing masks, rushing a patient in a hospital bed down the hallway

“BAMC provides more complex care to the nation than any other military treatment facility..."

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Combat Support | Clinical Quality Management | Quality and Safety of Health Care (for Healthcare Professionals) | Readiness Capabilities

Air Force doctor retires after 48 years of service

Article
11/20/2020
Uniformed officer standing next to an Air Force seal, wearing a stethoscope around his shoulders

In his civilian career, Thomas maintains a private practice as an anesthesiologist in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Health Readiness

WRNMMC displays the “Art of Healing” through December

Article
11/13/2020
Woman wearing mask, standing in front of several paintings

[T]he main focus of the exhibit was the art on display, and the artists behind it.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Naval Medical Forces Pacific’s commander tours NH Twentynine Palms

Article
11/12/2020
Four military personnel in uniform, wearing masks

Weber was briefed on the implementation of MHS GENESIS...and the hospital's response to COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Health Readiness | Coronavirus | MHS GENESIS | Readiness Capabilities

Forging of civil-military anvil against COVID-19 focus at GHSA

Article
11/9/2020
U.S. and Thai soldiers stand together during a medical exercise.

“Defense partnerships around the world are key.”

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Global Health Engagement | Health Readiness | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Dental literacy brings smiles at Naval Hospital Bremerton

Article
11/5/2020
Two military health personnel wearing masks

"If you’re not true to your teeth, your teeth will be false to you." That old dental proverb is nothing to smirk about.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 11 - November 2020

Report
11/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Acute respiratory infections among active component service members who use combustible tobacco products and/or e-cigarettes/vaping products, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018–2019; Fibromyalgia: Prevalence and burden of disease among active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018; Update: Cold weather injuries, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2015–June 2020.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

‘Virtual Ward’ pilot program to reduce hospital stay time

Article
10/30/2020
Man's arm with blood pressure cuff and fingertip pulse oximeter

"The idea is that instead of staying in hospital longer..., patients are released early and can recover in the comfort and privacy of their homes."

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Technology | Coronavirus | Public Health | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Navy audiology increases medical readiness and hearing awareness

Article
10/29/2020
Soldier wearing mask, sitting at laptop with a container of ear plugs close by

"The mission of Navy Audiology is to prevent occupational-related hearing injuries and increase medical readiness."

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Hearing and Balance Injuries

Weed ACH hosted breast cancer awareness event

Article
10/28/2020
Woman in pink hat and shirt, wearing a racing number, speaking to an audience

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a chance to raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Combat Support | Women's Health

Air Force Unit provides worldwide medical response capability

Article
10/15/2020
Two military personnel loading equipment onto an aircraft

The 379th EAES crews provide time sensitive in-flight patient care.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Combat Support
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 46 - 60 Page 4 of 38

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.