Manual of the Medical Department

Questions about medical procedures?
Go to, scroll down to MANMED Change 126 (pages 51-112) and download the document. The pertinent section is Article 15-105 Naval Special Warfare and Special Operations.
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Eye Surgery Questions

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  • Eye Surgery Questions

    Hi, I'm Michael and I'm a recent college grad who wants to become a SEAL. However, my vision is 20/500-400 in both eyes, so I'll need to get eye surgery. In my research and through talking with recruiters, I've found that my options (to the best of my knowledge) are either: 1. Get the surgery now, wait 4-6 months before I can be processed at MEPS or 2. Enlist now and get eye surgery while enlisted, then try out for BUD/S. I'm having trouble deciding which is the best option, so I have a few questions:
    -Is it better to get the eye surgery before by my own eye surgeon or by a military eye surgeon? Or does that matter?
    -My recruiter told me I could get eye surgery while enlisted, but I've also heard that's sort of a trick to get people to sign on sooner. Is this true?
    -I've also heard that the waitlist to get eye surgery while enlisted is pretty long and that the likelihood of getting into BUD/S while enlisted is lower than the chances of a civilian getting into BUD/S through the SEAL Challenge Program. Are both of these things true?

    Thanks in advance! And sorry if I used any terms wrong or posted this in the wrong topic!

  • #2

    In my opinion it'd be best to get the surgery before going to MEPs, if you enlist and then try to get into BUD/s then you are going up against all the other fleet sailors, which I think about 20-30 billets are allowed each year for them into BUD/s.You would be better off sorting out your eye issues and then going for a Challenge contract. Although if you can't afford that, then enlisting, getting the surgery done and then trying to get a billet to BUD/s might be your best route.

    I couldn't say if its a trick to get you to sign sooner, recruiters will do all they can to get another notch on their belt it seems. I would try phoning a few recruiters, maybe out of state recruiters to maintain anonymity and ask them flat out if that is an option. Gather your own intel that way, or maybe someone on the forums with experience can answer more confidently than I.

    I dont know about any waitlist for eye surgery, hopefully someone more knowledgeable than I can step in. But you are more likely to get into BUD/s as a civi with challenge contract than as a fleet sailor.
    "Lord, let me not prove unworthy of my brothers."

    "Ace Ventura: If you were me, then I'd be you, and I'd use *your* body to get to the top. You can't stop me no matter who you are!"

    “Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious... and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” - Walt Disney


    • #3
      If you get excimer laser surgery now (once you are evaluated by a civilian ophthalmologist and they accept you as a patient) you will wait 6 months post surgery prior to beginning the DEP screening. That is the Department of Defense policy prior to starting the MEPS medical evaluation for enlistment. Not sure where you are finding a range of 4-6 months. It is 6 months. Regardless, it really is a gamble to enlist and get surgery during your first enlistment. It is not a trick to state the surgery is available (it is) but...there are a number of factors that make this option an unknown. Wait lists, priority to other occupations (like aviation or other special programs) your deployment schedule, your access to the Naval hospitals that do in fact provide this service. You can get this done in San Diego and Norfolk(Portsmouth) but what if you are stationed overseas right after A school. All unpredictable. Even though the Navy does perform PRK there is a period after the procedure for post op evaluation and the facility will require routine check ups. If you cannot return for these then you will not be accepted and consider this too, your command must endorse the request, so it affects your work status. So, as I state, a number of things must align and no one can forecast that now since it is situationally driven.

      If you are an applicant that wants to screen for NSW, then enlisting in and going into another occupation first and applying/screening during your first enlistment is a pretty small aperture so you must factor these points into your final decision. Good luck!
      Please "Private Message" me on this forum if you have questions. I will respond to you at my earliest convenience.

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      • #4
        Yeah, getting my eyes done now and then going to MEPS might be what I do. I thought that time might also allow me to better study for the ASVAB and train for the PST. I have a couple more questions:
        -What do you guys think about PRK vs LASIK?
        -How soon after joining DEP would I be able to ship out to boot camp? Does that depend on how soon I finish the PST or on whatever ship date I'm given?
        -Do I need to get anything approved with the recruiter I talked to or the Navy in general before getting eye surgery done, or do I not have to deal with them until I'm ready to go to MEPS?