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Old 02-06-2019, 03:47 PM   #1  
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Default Refractive Eye Surgery and Medical. Advice?


I am a beginning flight school in September, and am trying to decide whether I should get laser eye surgery before getting my medical.

My eyesight is okay. The VA in my right eye is 20/15, so it is really good, but my other eye is 20/200 (bad).
In general I do not wear contacts or glasses because my good eye compensates for the bad one. As soon as I am unable to use my right eye though, it is not a good situation. I know I would not be comfortable flying with my vision the way it is, and I know I will not pass the medical without my glasses anyway. Since I am looking at a lifelong career here, I would rather just get my eyes fixed and not have to worry about glasses.

I got one consult yesterday for LASIK and they said they would only have to do my one eye. I am going for another consult at a different clinic tomorrow to get a second opinion. The more I have dug into it, the more I think I would prefer to have PRK over LASIK. I do not like the idea of having a "flap", so with PRK it is longer recovery, more pain, etc but you don't have the flap.

My biggest concerns are with the risk of haloing/starbursts at night which are two "rare" side-effects.

So two things, anyone out there who has had any type of refractive eye surgery, and can detail their experience (any issues with night-time vision?)?

Also, is there any problem with me getting the surgery (if I make that decision), and then getting my medical done. I live in Canada, so it would be with Transport Canada. I have looked around, and it doesn't seem to be disqualifying or anything, and I have only really seen discussion around current pilots with their medicals who get surgery and what the protocol is for them after surgery to get back up in the air again. Anybody got some info on that that I am unaware of?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-06-2019, 04:18 PM   #2  
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I am not familiar with transport Canada standards but YOU need to become familiar with them BEFORE you have any surgery. This may give you a start:

But you probably need to at least TALK to a Canadian AME.

There are issues with someone with one eye being 20/15 and the other 20/200. Is the 20/200 eye fully correctable? If not, what degree of correction is possible? Is the “bad” eye totally repressed normally, meaning certain types of depth perception may be inoperative? Not necessarily a show-stopper under US rules (heck, we certify one-eyed pilots) but if it’s sort of been the unused spare for awhile and you correct it, is that going to cause double vision? Or will it still be repressed. Or was it ever repressed. If not, maybe no problem whatever.


I’d talk to a good Canadian AME before anything else.
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Old 02-13-2019, 04:07 AM   #3  
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I had LASIK in 2009. Before it, I was 20/200 or so in both eyes, with astigmatism. Now I am 20/15, no astigmatism.

The halos were there but not nearly as significant as the internet will lead you to believe. I find when it's night, raining, and you're driving on a road with certain lights, it can be more troublesome. The eyes are really dry for several months after the surgery but you just pop some special eye drops in and you're good to go.

Here in the US, I had a 6 month waiting period (Army) before the service would even entertain the idea of maybe giving me a medical. You are right about all the "flap" stuff. It doesn't really hurt but the flap is very tender, so you have to be really, really protective toward your eyes until it fully heals (to the point that for the first couple weeks you wear a pair of goggles to bed). Like, if you rub your eyes and it rips the flap, it could permanently damage your vision.

I have never had any problems while flying and never have any problem with the vision tests. Based on how sensitive the eyes are to damage after the surgery, I would have been really uncomfortable flying until the flap was 100% fully and completely healed.

I never really minded glasses but the army wanted uncorrected near perfect vision so I had no choice. If you are correctable down to 20/20 and looking to get started flying ASAP, I would say just wear glasses.
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