Standard reply sent to all persons considering laser surgery, it's worth reading in depth:
Thank you for your enquiry regarding eyesight corrective laser surgery (corneal refractive surgery) and the relevant Royal Navy Policy. The Naval Service does not endorse the use of laser surgery as a method to gain entry and there is no guarantee that such treatment will improve vision to an acceptable standard.
The Naval Service requires individuals to serve anywhere in the world, in extremes of climate and operational situations, which are remote from primary and secondary care. Therefore, even minor conditions such as the use of correcting lenses can take on much greater significance when even basic support is limited. As a consequence, medical screening is stringent and to a higher standard than might be expected for normal civilian employment.
In general, any defect or weakness of sight will be a bar to entry if these defects render an individual incapable of, or likely to be incapable of performing general duties in the Naval Service. The tri-Service standard for uncorrected visual acuity is right eye 6/60 and left eye> 6/60.
With regard to surgical correction of myopia or hypermetropia, it is acknowledged that the following methods are now considered suitable for entry on an individual case by case basis for non-specialist employment groups and subject to single Service requirements:
(a) Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)
(b) Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis (LASEK)
(c) Laser in-situ Keratomileusis
(d) Intrastromal Corneal Rings (ICRs), otherwise known as Intrastromal
Entry will not be considered for Radical Keratotomy (RK), or Astigmatic Keratotomy (AK), or any other form of incisional refractive surgery, other than those procedures listed above. All invasive intraocular surgical procedures will remain a bar to entry.
In order to be considered a candidate must fulfil the following criteria and provide documentary evidence to support that:
(a) The pre-operative refractive error was not more than +6.00 or 6.00diopter (spherical equivalent) in either eye and;
(b) The best spectacle corrected visual acuity is 6/9 or better in each eye and;
(c) At least 12 months have elapsed since the date of the last surgery or enhancement procedure and;
(d) There has been no significant visual side effects secondary to the surgery affecting daily activities and;
(e) Refraction is stable; as defined by two refractions performed on each eye at least 6 months apart, with no more than 0.50 diopter difference in the spherical equivalent in each eye.
(f) Specialist visual function testing has been carried out with satisfactory results at least 12 months following surgery, including assessment of refraction, symmetry of visual acuity, high and low contrast sensitivity (with and without glare sources), astigmatism, glare, corneal clarity, masked mild hypermetropia and night vision.
An applicant who has undergone eyesight corrective laser surgery must supply evidence of the above and may be subject to evaluation by a Service Ophthalmic Consultant. Each case is considered on an individual basis and if all the criteria are met it may be possible to consider an application to enter the Naval Service.
Decisions regarding any kind of ophthalmic surgery should be discussed with an Ophthalmic Consultant. This letter should be taken to ophthalmic consultations where eyesight corrective laser surgery is to be discussed with a view to achieving the necessary eyesight standards for entry.
Very controversial. The problem is that there are quite a few different types - some safer than others (surprisingly enough, the expensive ones are better). The problem is that if it goes wrong it goes very wrong - you can end up with very poor night vision and your actual eyesight may get worse.
Things are changing, and some types are now being accepted. generally speaking, PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) and LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis) are accepted but it's not quite as simple as that. Your pre-op eyes should not be worse than +/- 6.0, your corrected vision should be at least 6/6 (R) and 6/12 (L), and you won't be considered for entry if you're within 12 months of surgery.
I wear contact lenses: I have considered corrective eye surgery a couple of times but have not gone for it. I have yet to speak to an ophthalmic surgeon or optician who has had it done, and I am not willing to run the risk of ending up in a worse condition than I am in now. The other problem is timing: your eyesight will deteriorate with age - this is a fact of life. If I spend Â£3000 on my eyes today, in 5-10 years time I may well need to wear glasses again. I don't think that's great value for money.