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Laser epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK) in the British Armed Forces

Poster Details

First Author: R.Blanch UK

Co Author(s):    S. McGinnigle   S. Naroo   A. Lau   R. Scott   A. Jacks   S. Shah

Abstract Details


One in six British soldiers requires some form of refractive correction. Spectacles interfere with the use of specialised equipment such as night vision goggles and are prone to damage. Contact lenses are unsuitable for most deployed environments due to an unacceptably high risk of microbial keratitis. Refractive surgery offers freedom from reliance on spectacles with low reported complication rates, but is associated with well recognised side effects such as dry eyes and glare under low light conditions.


A pilot study to objectively assess the safety, efficacy, stability and patient satisfaction after Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis (LASEK) in high value soldiers of the British Special Forces.


This is a prospective study of 23 eyes of 12 patients who underwent Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis (LASEK) by a single surgeon. All patients were followed up for a minimum of 12 weeks. Uncorrected and best corrected distance visual acuities, refraction, Brightness Acuity Test (BAT), aberrometry and patient satisfaction were analysed.


Complete follow-up data was available on 21 eyes. Mean patient age was 34.5 ± 6.9 years. Mean pre-operative spherical equivalent refraction was -1.63 ± 1.54 diopters (D) (range: +0.375 to -5.25D). At 6 weeks post-operative visit, uncorrected distance visual acuity of 20/20 or better was found in 17 eyes (83%) and 8 eyes (38%) achieved 20/15 or better. 4 eyes (19%) had improvement of one or more lines of BCVA. 18 eyes (86%) were within ±0.5D of emmetropia. No significant complications were observed during the follow up period.


LASEK is well established for the correction of refractive error in civilians and soldiers with low complication rates and predictable, reproducible outcomes. This study reports excellent objective, subjective and functional outcomes in a population with high visual requirements. The role-specific positive impact of freedom from refractive correction and negative impact of common side effects with respect to the use of specialised equipment has been less well studied. FINANCIAL INTEREST: NONE

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