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Lincoln sailors benefit from laser eye surgery

Capt. Joseph Pasternak, an ophthalmology surgeon at National Naval Medical Center Bethesda, lines up the laser on Marine Corps Lt. Col. Lawrence Ryder’s eye before beginning LASIK IntraLase surgery. The actual procedure can take only seconds, while most of the patient’s time is spent preparing for the procedure. - Photo by Brien Aho
Capt. Joseph Pasternak, an ophthalmology surgeon at National Naval Medical Center Bethesda, lines up the laser on Marine Corps Lt. Col. Lawrence Ryder’s eye before beginning LASIK IntraLase surgery. The actual procedure can take only seconds, while most of the patient’s time is spent preparing for the procedure.
— image credit: Photo by Brien Aho

Sailors aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) are benefiting from corrective eye surgery at Naval Hospital Bremerton, one of only seven refractive surgery centers in the United States capable of providing Navy personnel with vision correction procedures.

Lt. Cmdr. Robert Gustafson, a member of Lincoln’s Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department, recently received LASIK surgery at NHB.

“Before the procedure my vision was 20/40, now I’m reading 20/20 after 30 days,” Gustafson said. He added the NHB refractive surgical team was professional and competent.

“After setting up an appointment with the optometry clinic, you’ll get a very extensive eye exam to determine eligibility. If eligible, the team will educate you on the risks and different procedures available,” Gustafson said.

Currently, the Navy uses two refractive procedures, LASIK and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), both available at NHB.

With LASIK, the cornea is split with a blade to form a flap. The inside of the cornea is then treated with an excimer laser.

PRK combines the use of a surgical blade and the excimer laser to remove tissue from the surface of the cornea.

Although both procedures may seem painful, they are, at most, mildly uncomfortable.

“I wouldn’t say there’s any pain with LASIK,” Gustafson said. “Before surgery, you’ll get a post-op appointment where medication will be prescribed, and they’ll go over procedures about exactly what will happen during the surgery.”

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW) Dennis M. Capiendo works in Lincoln’s Health Services Department as an aviation medicine technician.

Capiendo said he usually provides between 2-3 people a week with information regarding the surgery.

“Over the past three weeks, roughly 30 personnel have picked up a handout, but less than 10 have actually turned in their paperwork and are scheduled to have the exam done,” he said.

Corrective or refractive eye surgery aims to correct visual acuity, with the objective of reducing or eliminating the need for eyeglasses or contacts.

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