In the last few years, people have been undergoing laser eye surgery to correct their impaired visions, making them able to see in 20/20 vision without the use of glasses or contacts. Recently, an Army eye clinic has offered the usually costly procedure free to soldiers most likely to go to fight in Iraq. The Air Force Academy eye clinic became the first to perform what is called LASIK surgery to these soldiers.

LASIK is short for Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis. The laser reshapes the cornea to give the patient near if not perfect vision. Soldiers undergoing the procedure must have it done at least 90 days before they deploy. The nine Army clinics who offer the procedure have done 500 surgeries per year. Only two military hospitals offer the surgery to cadets in the military academies only. Dr. Joseph Dello Russo of Dello Russo Vision Center in New York has also offered the procedure for free to 11 Army, Navy, and National Guardsmen at his office one day per month. The procedure normally costs $5,500.

Pilots will benefit the most from this procedure. This is due to the fact that they cannot wear glasses or contacts. However, there is question about whether or not their lasered eyes will be able to withstand being ejected from planes flying at supersonic speeds. In terms of the benefits for soldiers, night vision goggles, gas masks, and other head equipment that soldiers wear do not always fit well if they are wearing glasses. This added comfort will make soldiers safer and more aware when they are heading into combat.

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