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As first responders, police officers have a challenging and often dangerous job. They rely on their vision more than most; in fact, seeing properly can be a matter of life or death for them. Thankfully, you don’t have to be born with perfect sight to enter the police force. There are many ways to correct blurry vision caused by nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
Although glasses and contact lenses are a common form of correction, they are less than ideal for law enforcement. Not only are they a hindrance to the active lifestyle, but they have the potential to be downright dangerous. Imagine the prospect of losing a contact or breaking your glasses while apprehending a suspect. These perilous scenarios illustrate the need for an alternative to traditional vision correction. Refractive surgery, such as laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) or photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), is much better suited to the needs of law enforcement. It eliminates the need for external vision correction aids, improving convenience and safety.
Vision Requirements for Police
Every town, county, or state has its own police vision requirements. This may include stipulations pertaining to visual acuity, peripheral vision, and color vision. Do you need perfect vision to be a police officer? No, but the requirements are generally understandably strict. Not only do municipalities have conditions for vision through glasses or contact lenses, but they often have stipulations for vision without corrective lenses. This is because of the potential risk of harm if glasses or contact lenses are lost or broken on the job. For example, they may require 20/20 vision with correction and 20/40 vision without correction.
This is a tough standard to meet with a substantial glasses/contact lens prescription. If one’s vision is considerably reduced without glasses or contacts, PRK or LASIK for law enforcement work may be necessary. Without surgery, people with substantial amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism would not be eligible to enter the police force. Refractive surgery enables these individuals to meet vision requirements without glasses or contacts. Not only is the uncorrected vision requirement met, but the risk of losing or breaking glasses or contact lenses eliminated. Generally, there are no police restrictions for LASIK or PRK.
How LASIK Can Benefit the Police
Some people undergo refractive surgery just to apply to join law enforcement. If they don’t meet the uncorrected vision requirement, this is the only way they can become eligible. Others decide to have refractive surgery once they are already in the police force. Getting LASIK as a police officer is relatively common due to the tremendous inconvenience and safety issues of glasses and contact lenses.
Can you be a police officer if you had LASIK?
Yes, that’s not an issue.
Do police officers have to have LASIK?
Absolutely not, but they commonly want to address vision correction due to the nature of their work. Officers lead active lives, often finding themselves in drastically variable environments and facing numerous challenges. They need to be able to concentrate on their job while taking their vision for granted.
LASIK Procedure for Police Officers
LASIK for police officers is easy, quick, and painless. Here is what to expect from the process:
At this visit, a wide variety of screening tests are performed to determine candidacy. There are certain parameters that patients must meet to make the procedure safe and effective. The patient then meets with the surgeon, who will discuss the test results and determine which procedure is best for them. While LASIK is the most common, there are alternatives that may be better for certain people, such as PRK, refractive lens exchange, or implantable Collamer lenses.
On the day of surgery, the patient is taken into the surgical suite and prepped for the procedure. The surgeon will use a laser to help guide the treatment. First, a flap will be created from the outer corneal layers and lifted up and off to the side. Then, a laser will be delivered to the deeper corneal layers. The flap will then be realigned over the treated area to help with healing and pain control. Once the first eye is complete, the other will be done.
On the day of surgery, patients may experience some blur and discomfort. It’s best to keep the eyes closed for most of the day to allow them to recover. By the next day, vision will have drastically improved, and patients can go back to most of their normal day-to-day activities.
Follow-up visits are often scheduled after one day, one week, and one month, but this may vary depending on the clinic and patient progress.
Risks and Side Effects of LASIK for The Police
Although vision generally improves very quickly after LASIK, law enforcement officers should give themselves some time before getting back out in the field. It may be best to stick with office work until vision is stabilized. After LASIK, some people experience dryness, discomfort, and redness of the eyes. If a patient’s eyes are already dry pre-operatively, pre-treatment may be of benefit before proceeding with surgery. Some will experience prolonged blur and may require touch-up surgery to optimize their vision. Others may experience halos, starbursts, and glare. Talk to your doctor about how likely these side effects are in your case. There is also a risk that the flap may dislodge with direct trauma to the eye. Law enforcement officers may be particularly at risk for this due to the unpredictable nature of their work. It’s recommended that they wear eye protection while working to prevent this serious complication.
It’s no surprise that LASIK or PRK and police work so often go hand in hand. The demands of the job make refractive surgery a natural fit for those who weren’t blessed with naturally good vision but wished to enter the police force.
To explore your treatment options and determine whether you are a candidate for LASIK, please contact the team at Kraff Eye Institute today at (312) 444-1111 or schedule a LASIK consultation on our website. Check out our patient's testimonial to see how Kraff Eye Institute helps law enforcement professionals!