From battling intense fires to helping citizens during disaster response calls, a firefighter has one of the most dangerous professions on the planet. While physical fitness is integral to this civil service role, firefighters shouldn’t overlook potential or current vision problems. Glasses and contact lenses are highly susceptible to smoke, flames, and heat, and may become a hindrance that interferes with their job duties. Fortunately, firefighters suffering from vision impairment have numerous vision correction options. Check out these vision correction options and find out why these operations are something every firefighter should consider.
Why Every Firefighter Should Consider Vision Correction
In dangerous scenarios, firefighters can’t afford to have impaired vision. Unfortunately, many of the aspects of battling fires — smoke, debris, flames, and water — can cause contact lenses to fog, become blurry, or get knocked out of place. Glasses pose a similar problem. When firefighters are up against the elements, glasses can easily get knocked off and threaten their safety.
In addition to these on-the-job threats, firefighters must also pass the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) vision test. Without vision correction, many firefights can’t pass this test or find gainful employment.
Also known as photorefractive keratectomy, PRK was the first type of refractive laser surgery to correct astigmatism, hyperopia (farsightedness), and myopia (nearsightedness). During PRK, the surgeon removes and discards the thin layer of corneal tissue, known as the epithelium. This allows an excimer laser to penetrate the eye and change the way that light reflects of the retina for a clearer vision. Unlike LASIK, PRK lets the body regrow the epithelial layer on its own.
In most cases, firefighters can return to work within three to five days and drive within a week. During this time, they must also wear a bandage over the eye to help the healing process and preventing infection. Some sensitivity, halos, and starbursts may remain for a few days or weeks following that, but an excellent vision is possible within four to six weeks.
PRK is the only choice for those with prescriptions of -8.00 or higher because the corneal flap is completely regrown by the body. In addition, PRK is a suitable alternative for those with a thin cornea, as LASIK may not be an option for these candidates.
As the successor to PRK, LASIK surgery, or laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, builds upon the methods of the original surgery. Instead of removing and discarding the epithelium, the surgeon simply cuts a flap in it. Once the laser refractive surgery is complete, they simply put the epithelium back in place.
In this manner, LASIK provides a distinct advantage. Because firefighters don’t have to wait several days for the epithelium to regrow, they can go back to work after only one or two days with minimal complications and no bandages. Eye dryness and seeing halos are two of the major concerns, but these often subside after a few weeks.
As a firefighter, you can’t put your life and the well-being of others at jeopardy due to vision problems. Thankfully, LASIK or PRK can correct the problem and get you back to the firehouse with the best vision you’ve ever had.
Dr. Alexandra Chebil is sought after for her meticulous approach to laser vision correction. She has performed over 50,000 vision correction surgeries in Orange County CA that included Lasik or PRK on everyday people, athletes, and firefighters.
Schedule your complimentary appointment with Dr. Chebil and discover if laser vision correction is right for you.