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Laser eye surgery restrictions

Rubbish Eyes!

Hello everyone,

I am calling on anyone and everyone who can give some guidance on this matter. I am applying to be a GDMO, specialising in GP.
I failed my eyesight in April, and obtained a VA4 (I am myopic and have mild astigmatism in one eye and am about to find out exactly what it was that I failed on). I wasn't sure what was going on for ages, but was just notified on Monday that I could still be eligible for as a reservist as the entry criteria had been changed. I tried to make some headway with the RSR unit today, but have been told today there is no requirement for GPs.
Money and having a job is not the issue, because I'll be a fully trained GP in 3 years time.
I am keen on having laser eye surgery to sort out my vision and will spare no expense, so I wanted to ask you,
1) is any form of astigmatism a total barrier to entry in the Royal Navy?

2) what is the current guidance on laser eye surgery before joining the Royal Navy please?

3) what ophthalmologic procedures are a barrier to entry please?

In an ideal world, I want to go into the Royal Navy full time, so while trying to stay strong, I would like to request anyone's help please,



War Hero
Current advice is as follows:

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 Segments (ICS).

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:

  • The pre-operative refractive error was not more than + 6.00 or - 7.00 dioptre (estimated spherical equivalent) in either eye and
  • The best spectacle corrected visual acuity is 6/9 or better in each eye and;
  • You are over the age of 22 and;
  • At least 12 months have elapsed since the date of the last surgery or enhancement procedure and;

There have been no significant visual side effects secondary to the surgery affecting daily activities or night vision and;
Refraction is stable; as defined by two refractions performed on each eye at least 6 months apart, with no more than 0.50 dioptre difference in the spherical equivalent in either eye.
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) or contrast acuity analysis, 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 and your AFCO.


War Hero
No problem - the main hold-ups I've seen, following laser surgery, (besides being 12 months clear/over age 22) are evidence of the pre-operative prescription and successive prescriptions post op to prove stability.
Thank you, I follow the posts on here and note that you definitely are a man in the know! Thank you also for the guide to the AIB as well, though unfortunately it doesn't seem to apply to me anymore.
I have been given the option to retake my eye test, so at least that is something. But what is massively frustrating is why it took this long to say that, so I can only contest this now, and having interrogated the optician about the various parameters, why the result was rejected even though the total results came within the requirements for entry.
Thanks anyways.


Looking into joining as mine clearance diver, recently had laser eye surgery 3 months ago all well and better then 20/20 i know the standard over 12 month wait before medical, and that i can not apply to aircrew but was wondering if it made a difference to applying for MCD, thanks.


Book Reviewer
I have no idea. You could try phoning the AFCO. Or wait until Ninja Stoker gets up for a auld mans piss in 3 hours time.


Lantern Swinger
Laser eye surgery all comes down to several things. 1. You have to wait a year 2. It depends on your prescription correction before the treatment 3. Your current state and stability of vision in the year following surgery.
There is a dit on the RN eligibility part of the website, plus your AFCO will be able to give you an information sheet about Corrective Eye Surgery if you give them a call on Monday.
It shouldn't be a problem for MCD if all is ok.
Good luck


War Hero
Does anyone know why Jonathon Edwards is now wearing glasses?
They're not reading glasses.



Lantern Swinger
I have an inkling. When you have Laser Eye Surgery it corrects your eyes by essentially shaving bits of the eye off. Over time, as we get older your eyesight may well degenerate again, which is part of the aging process. This means that the £1 - 3k you spent on fixing your eyes will be negated by nature.

On another point about this type of surgery. I have an acquaintance who is a consultant ophthalmologist. He wears glassescand contacts, but point blank refuses to consider eye surgery because no-one really knows the long term effects. I will be following his lead and keep wearing goggles!
As the first ever Naval Entrant having entered having the elective surgery, I can tell you that it was one hell of a fight getting in because there was no actual procedures in place if a candidate came back, having had the corrections to meet the standard. Effectively, because of me, the JSP was changed, because although I had met every requirement I was asked to do, there was always "something else", which was used to try and preclude me. Reaching my Common Promotion Date on 31 July actually goes to show that the fight was eventually worth it and proved my individual case was correct.

I can tell you that you'll need to wait a minimum of 12 months, but that the eye examination that was contracted out to Dolland & Aitchison (now Boots Opticians) isn't actually full enough. You will, more than likely, need to undertake the one created by Professor John Barbur and this is effectively a combat pilot eye examination; this will also come at your personal cost. It was £250 when I did it in 2007, so it may be nearer £1k now. If you do get a bit of a runaround by the AFCO, then this is the examination you need to do.

Professor John Barbur | City University London


Lantern Swinger
The burden of proof that the post-op effects of the surgery does lie with the applicant. This is the case with any therapy or treatment and not limited to Corrective Eye Surgery. At the time of WLSs entry there was a limited understanding of the procedure, hence the original rejection. This would have led to an appeal, which again the burden of proof of potential fitness, lies with the applicant.

Currently, the evidence required are copies of the original pre-op assessment, the actual procedure undertaken and the corrected eye state at the 6 month and 12 month post-op points. If there are any costs involved in obtaining these above photocopying charges, then the company is making more money out of you. These are medical records, socyou should be given copies if requested.

Unless you fail the medical on this matter and launch an appeal, there should be no need to have a specialist eye examination. The pre-entry examination undertaken through a contract with Boot's Opticians is designed to determine the current eyesight standard for matching against the standard eyesight requirements only.
My application actually began in 2001, was accepted and had my start date. While waiting, the requirements for wearing glasses had changed and put me out of zone. It was only after some serious fighting and a snotagram to the then 2SL which forced the issue and actually got the examination arranged that allowed me to join.

My procedure was a bit different as they actually slice the cornea open and then blast the back of the eye with their lasers. The smell is not pleasant in any way at all. The only side effects I've had nearly 15 years down the line is that I occasionally get dry eyes, but nothing more.

As a bit of general advice though, if you do decide to elect for the surgery, do your research first. At the time that I did it, the NHS has a 65% success rate and Private had 90%. I'm sure this has since changed, so you need to research carefully, thoroughly and actually have a chat through the procedure with the surgeons. If they urge you to go for it, then they are best avoided. If they give you the risks and let you make up your own mind, then they are the guys to use.
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