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...

VCE_EyeInjuries_1

Infographic
3/23/2021
Top Sports for Eye Injuries: Water and pool activities, basketball, baseball, and softball

Top Sports for Eye Injuries: Water and pool activities, basketball, baseball, and softball

Recommended Content:

Vision Loss | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention

VCE_EyeInjuries_2

Infographic
3/23/2021
14.7% of eye injuries occur during sports

14.7% of eye injuries occur during sports

Recommended Content:

Vision Loss | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention

Mononucleosis

Infographic
7/1/2019
Mononucleosis

A specimen is tested for mononucleosis at the medical clinic on Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota (U.S. Air Force photo)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Influenza

Infographic
7/1/2019
Adminstration of a seasonal flu vaccination. (U.S. Navy photo)

Adminstration of a seasonal flu vaccination. (U.S. Navy photo)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Zika

Infographic
7/1/2019
Zika

Anopheles merus mosquito. (CDC photo by James Gathany)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Psittacosis

Infographic
7/1/2019
Psittacosis

Green-winged Macaw. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Cyclosporiasis

Infographic
6/1/2019
Cyclosporiasis

Outbreak of Cyclosporiasis in a U.S. Air Force Training Population, Joint Base San Antonio–Lackland, TX, 2018 While bacteria and viruses are the usual causes of gastrointestinal disease outbreaks, 2 Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA)– Lackland, TX, training populations experienced an outbreak of diarrheal illness caused by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis in June and July 2018. Cases were identified from outpatient medical records and responses to patient questionnaires.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Norovirus

Infographic
6/1/2019
Norovirus

Norovirus Outbreak in Army Service Members, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, May 2018 In May 2018, an outbreak of gastrointestinal illnesses due to norovirus occurred at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The outbreak lasted 14 days, and a total of 91 cases, of which 8 were laboratory confirmed and 83 were suspected, were identified.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Female infertility

Infographic
6/1/2019
Female infertility

Female infertility, active component service women, U.S. Armed Forces, 2013–2018 This report presents the incidence and prevalence of diagnosed female infertility among active component service women. During 2013–2018, 8,744 active component women of childbearing potential were diagnosed with infertility for the first time, resulting in an overall incidence of 79.3 cases per 10,000 person-years (p-yrs).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Ambulatory Visits, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018

Infographic
5/1/2019
Ambulatory Visits

Ambulatory Visits, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018 This report documents the frequencies, rates, trends, and characteristics of ambulatory healthcare visits of active component members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps during 2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens

Infographic
5/1/2019
Absolute and relative morbidity burdens

Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens Attributable To Various Illnesses and Injuries, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018 This annual summary uses a standard disease classification system (modified for use among U.S. military members) and several healthcare burden measures to quantify the impacts of various illnesses and injuries among members of the active component of the U.S. Armed Forces in 2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Hospitalizations, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018

Infographic
5/1/2019
Hospitalizations

Hospitalizations, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018 This report documents the frequencies, rates, trends, and distributions of hospitalizations of active component members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps during calendar year 2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens Attributable to Various Illnesses and Injuries, Non-Service Member Beneficiaries of the Military Health System, 2018

Infographic
5/1/2019
Morbidity Burdens

The current report represents an update and provides a summary of care provided to non-service members in the MHS during calendar year 2018. Healthcare burden estimates are stratified by direct versus outsourced care and across 4 age groups of healthcare recipients.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Heat Illness

Infographic
4/1/2019
Heat Illness

This report summarizes reportable medical events of heat illness as well as heat illness-related hospitalizations and ambulatory visits among active component service members during 2018 and compares them to the previous 4 years. Episodes of heat stroke and heat exhaustion are summarized separately.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Exertional Rhabdomyolysis

Infographic
4/1/2019
Exertional Rhabdomyolysis

Each year, the MSMR summarizes the numbers, rates, trends, risk factors, and locations of occurrences of exertional heat injuries, including exertional rhabdomyolysis. This report includes the data for 2014–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 5

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.