Pilots and corrective eye surgery

Matthew Beyer has posted an interesting question on the Ask A Flight Instructor website regarding corrective eye surgery such as Lasik and flying. Specifically, Matthew wrote that:

Are there any stipulations regarding corrective eye surgery like Lasik other than the 20/40 corrected (I think I read that). In other words, if I consider Lasik surgery does it impact my medicals in the future?

Commenter MaggotCFII referred to the FAA website and noted their guidelines  included the following expectations:

The FAA expects that a pilot will not resume piloting aircraft until his or her own treating health care professional determines:

  • The post operative condition has stabilized;
  • There have been no significant adverse effects or complications; and
  • The person meets the appropriate FAA vision standards.

The FFA website further adds that if the above determinations are favorable, a pilot may immediately resume piloting but still must ensure that the treating health care profession has documented any determinations in the health care treatment record. In addition, a copy of the record must be sent to the the Aerospace Medical Certification Division in Oklahoma City.

Nevertheless, MaggotCFII also noted that he knew someone who had complications after the surgery and those complications ended his private flying days.

Meanwhile, commenter Matthew Waugh noted that he has also heard of stories of people who had complications with the surgery and others who did not have any problems. He also knows of commercial airline pilots who choose to have the surgery done – risking their livelihoods. He also added:

It’s just a decision, research the odds, figure out your risk profile, and either go for it or not. I, personally, couldn’t get convinced. People raved about being able to read the alarm clock numbers at night, and I thought “seriously, that’s your argument”

Very good advice indeed.

However, we would like to ask if any of our readers have chosen to have any type of corrective eye surgery such as Lasik and what you thought of the procedure. Moreover, have you heard of any pilots who had complications with any type of corrective eyw surgery?

2 Responses to Pilots and corrective eye surgery

  1. Kebgolfer April 15, 2011 at 04:15 #

    I agree that it should be a personal choice. I have had the surgery myself, and in my case, it has been very beneficial. But I still wouldn't reccomend per say, I say make up your own mind.

  2. Karolyn Tucker May 7, 2013 at 19:50 #

    When I had the Lasik done on my eyes, the doctor said it was okay to fly. Procedure was on Friday and on Sunday, I did my first solo cross country only to have my eyes blur up from altitude….luckily with the help of two other pilots I was able to get the plane on the ground. Ended up leaving plane there and getting a ride back to base airport by the two pilots. Called the doctor and told him what happened. He asked me to come in to see him immediately upon flying the plane back to home base the next day so he could examine my eyes. Outcome was he said my eyes looked like a football team ran across them with the cleated shoes. He gave me medication to heal the eyes and I have been fine since. He didn’t realize when I asked about flying that I would be the pilot!

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