by Dr. John Beasley, M.D.
Aviation Medical Examiner
Professor Emeritus and Clinical Professor
Department of Family Medicine
University of Wisconsin – Madison
The other day I had the aeromedical equivalent of a ramp check by a very nice guy (really!) from the FAA Great Lakes Regional Office in Des Plaines, Illinois.
I guess I did okay as he didn’t tear up my Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) Certificate, but I found out that I had made an error in what I had written a few months ago regarding flying after Lasik refractive surgery. I thought that life was fairly simple and once you could see, you could go. I wrote: “Basically, once things have stabilized and if there are no complications and any residual refractive error is corrected by glasses, then you are good to go.” Well, I was almost right – except for the paperwork. An FAA Form 8500-7 filled out by your eye-doc is required as you can see below:
“The FAA requires that civil airmen with refractive surgical procedures (e.g., PRK, LASIK) discontinue flying until their eye care specialist has determined that their vision is stable and there are no significant adverse effects or complications. The airman should submit one of two documents to the FAA (a report from their eye care specialist or “Report of Eye Evaluation” [FAA-8500-7]). These reports can be submitted directly to the Aerospace Medical Certification Division when released from care, or to their Aviation Medical Examiner during their next flight physical. This report should state:
“. . . . that the airman meets the visual acuity standards and the report of eye evaluation indicates healing is complete, visual acuity remains stable, and the applicant does not suffer sequela, such as glare intolerance, halos, rings, impaired night vision, or any other complications. . . .” (Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners, July 2005).
The situation is essentially the same after cataract surgery. Here the FAA statement is:
“The Examiner may issue a certificate after cataract surgery for applicants who have undergone cataract surgery with or without lens (es) implant. If pertinent medical records and a current ophthalmologic evaluation (using FAA Form 8500-7 or FAA Form 8500-14) indicate that the applicant meets the standards, the FAA may delegate authority to the Examiner to issue subsequent certificates.”
So the short word is that yes, when you can see okay, you are good to go, but you need to have your eye-doc fill out one of the 8500-7 forms first. The good news is that as I read this, you don’t need to bring it to your AME until the regular time of the next physical and you can fly as soon as your eye doc says you can. And yes, I do have some of these forms in a drawer somewhere. Now, if I can just find them…