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Wilford Hall opens Joint Warfighter Refractive Surgery Center

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Matthew Bates
  • Air Force News Agency
Cutting-edge laser eye surgery procedures for active-duty servicemembers are now available as 59th Medical Wing officials opened the first Department of Defense Joint Warfighter Refractive Surgery Center Aug. 23 here.  

The $2.7 million renovated facility houses the most advanced technology available for refractive surgery with three temperature and humidity controlled laser suites and eight additional Air Force and Army surgeons at the Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base. 

"Every year the U.S. Air Force spends billions of dollars upgrading the capabilities of our weapons systems, like upgrading avionics on the F-16 (Fighting Falcon) or F-22 (Raptor)," said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Charles Reilly, the chief of the Joint Warfighter Refractive Surgery Center and consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General for refractive surgery. "The new laser ambulatory surgery center brings the latest state-of-the art technology to allow us to upgrade the avionics of our most important weapons system -- our people." 

One of these, Senior Airman Amanda Williams, was one of the first individuals to benefit from the capabilities of the new refractive surgery center. She underwent laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, or LASIK, surgery immediately after the ceremony  officially opening the center. 

"I didn't really know what to expect, but it was really pretty easy," said Airman Williams, who is a dental technician at Wilford Hall. "It was quick and painless and I could see improvement in my eyesight right away." 

Like Airman Williams, the center also offers a first to pilots. Currently, it is the only such facility where pilots and boom operators can go to receive LASIK surgery. 

The center is not all about surgery, however. It is also a hub of education and research within the DOD and the medical community as a whole. The facility is the only Air Force center with a certified physician trainer for Laser Refractive Surgery and has established a program with the University of Texas' Health Science Center to train civilian ophthalmology residents in refractive surgery. 

"The capabilities we have here are extraordinary," Colonel Reilly said. "This facility not only makes us the first in DOD, but we are now among the best refractive surgery centers in the world."

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