Laser eye surgery center reopens
By , 81st Surgical Operations Squadron
/ Published March 14, 2007
KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Keesler Medical Center's Warfighter Refractive Surgery Clinic reopened Monday.
Surgery is slated to resume at the clinic in May.
The mission-readiness program is available to all active-duty military personnel with nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. Laser vision correction can reduce or even eliminate dependence on corrective lenses.
Keesler's program, which stood up in 2001, received Air Force awards in 2002, 2003 and 2004. However, the center was destroyed when Hurricane Katrina struck the base.
"Almost all of our pre-Katrina refractive surgery team is back," said Master Sgt. Rickey Mann, the center's noncommissioned officer in charge. "Our military personnel turned down reassignments and civilian personnel returned from outside clinics. The Air Force let us build this center from the ground up, equip it with the best instruments and keep our experienced team together so we can hit the ground running."
"I think our team was kept at Keesler because military leadership recognizes this is a readiness issue," observed Maj. (Dr.) Keith Berry, director of refractive surgery services.
"Our troops operate instruments, use equipment and launch jets in all environments. Glasses and contacts can be difficult to use in rain, fog, sand and mud. On average, troops who deploy after having refractive surgery shoot better, their gas masks fit better and there is less risk of down time due to broken or lost glasses.
"There are numerous troops who spent their first tour in the (area of responsibility) wearing glasses and then had refractive surgery before their second tour," he continued. "They credit the surgery with increasing their combat effectiveness and overall confidence to perform the mission."
A state of the art refractive surgery center under construction will house two lasers, on-site preoperative and postoperative care suites and a large day-room for friends and family members accompanying patients.
Laser vision correction surgeries, including advanced surface ablation and laser in-situ keratomeileusis will be performed using the latest wavefront-guided technologies.
Those interested in having refractive surgery at Keesler must complete a screening process. Active-duty personnel permanently assigned within about 50 miles can have all screening done at Keesler. Others must complete screening through their local optometrist.
Forms are available through the clinic or online at http://www.kafb310.keesler.af.mil.
For more information, e-mailing the clinic at firstname.lastname@example.org.