There was a neat article in the NYTimes today, about how the availability of free laser eye surgery is changing officers’ career choices:
For generations, Academy graduates with high grades and bad eyes were funneled into the submarine service. But in the five years since the Naval Academy began offering free eye surgery to all midshipmen, it has missed its annual quota for supplying the Navy with submarine officers every year.
Officers involved say the failure to meet the quota is due to many factors, including the perception that submarines no longer play as vital a national security role as they once did. But the availability of eye surgery to any midshipman who wants it is also routinely cited.
We were surprised to learn the Navy uses an alternative to the ubiquitous LASIK:
The procedure used by the Navy, photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK, is different from the one used on most civilians. That approach, known as laser-in situ keratomileusis, or Lasik, requires cutting a flap in the surface of the cornea and then using a laser to reshape the cornea. But military doctors worry that the flap could come loose during combat, especially in a supersonic fighter.
So rather than slicing into the cornea covering, Navy doctors grind it away. The approach requires a longer recovery as the covering re-forms but leaves the eye more stable.