Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia is the first US Department of Defense (DoD) medical facility to perform the revolutionary laser vision correction procedure, ReLEx SMILE from Zeiss. The Naval Medical Center San Diego is scheduled to perform first procedures in the coming weeks. Following the recent US FDA approval of ReLEx SMILE for the treatment of myopia, or nearsightedness, all three branches of the DoD, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force, have plans to offer SMILE for eligible service members. This will include an extensive evaluation of SMILE to correct myopia and astigmatism under some of the most visually demanding conditions. The DoD has an expansive refractive surgery program with over 20 dedicated centers around the world which performed over 40,000 refractive surgery procedures last year.
“Dependence on eyeglasses or contact lenses can be a challenge for many people in their daily lives. The conditions that nearsighted patients face in the performance of military duties can be life-threatening if their vision is compromised,” says Jim Mazzo, Global President Ophthalmic Devices at Carl Zeiss Meditec. “The expectations of surgeons and patients who serve in the military are exceptionally high. These first cases by Dr. Rivers represent the first step towards adoption of SMILE across all three branches and will enable their surgeons to offer the newest, most advanced refractive laser technology to service members who face some of the most demanding situations requiring perfect vision.”
“We are excited that US service members can now be treated with this innovative technology and that we have a new refractive surgery option to help increase the safety and the performance of the service men and women who are called to go into harm’s way,” said Army Col. Bruce Rivers, MD, Director of the Warfighter Refractive Eye Surgery Program and Research Center at Fort Belvoir Hospital. “The visual requirements for military personnel are demanding. Myopic correction with eyeglasses or contact lenses restricts some of the best and brightest from various roles in the military and causes difficulties in deployed environments. SMILE is a breakthrough surgical vision correction option which can be life-changing for many and life-saving for first responders and for those in dynamic roles.”