Laser Eye Surgery for Rifle Shooters?


Thin Black Line
February 22, 2007, 09:14 AM
I'm wondering how many rifle shooters here have had laser eye surgery and
how they would compare the before and after of the surgery with their older
corrective methods (glasses/contacts).

Did it seem like a big improvement? Any help/hindrance when it came to both
iron and optical sites (both dot and magnified)? What type of corrective
surgery did you have? Was it worth the money for the difference in the
shooting sports (ie, social life aspect of it isn't relevant here)?

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High Planes Drifter
February 22, 2007, 09:20 AM
My older brother had it done slast year. He swears it helped him. He claims it was worth every penny. He was nearsighted before the surgery, he shoots fine with open sights now. Much better than me.

February 22, 2007, 09:48 AM
The money I spent on Lasik was the best money I ever spent.

February 22, 2007, 11:30 AM
I had VERY bad eyes, so Lasik wasn't an options for me. Verisys lens implantation was. Lots more expensive, but 100% correctable and reversible. I now have slightly better than 20/20 vision, but hav some difficulty using a longarm rear iron sight if it is closer than about 8 inches.

USMC Tanker
February 22, 2007, 11:38 AM
LASIK was the best $1200 I've ever spent!

I was horrendously near sighted, i.e. couldn't count fingers from across a room!

I now see better than 20/20, with only VERY SLIGHT halos at night, which haven't effected my driving and/or night operations or training.

It's insanely better than dealing with glasses/contacts, don't have to worry about prescription sunglasses or shooting glasses, and made shooting expert very easy this year.

I won't go so far as to say it will make you a better marksman, but will definitely make improving your abilities that much easier.

I will however, go so far as to say that it certainly WILL NOT hurt your shooting!

February 22, 2007, 11:41 AM
hey, where are you guys getting lasik for $1200? maybe i'm missing something, but the prices i'm seeing are 3x that

USMC Tanker
February 22, 2007, 11:43 AM
Got mine done at Global Laser Vision in San Diego, CA this year. It was approx. $1200 with military discount (which took about $85 off).

February 22, 2007, 12:09 PM
Shop around. My wife and I both had it done for $500 per eye.

February 22, 2007, 02:16 PM
Plan on getting this done this coming summer. Glad to hear all the positive reports!

February 22, 2007, 02:41 PM
Army did my eyes, it was like night and day. Cannot say enough good things about it.

February 22, 2007, 03:18 PM
Got mine done 5 years ago, and have never looked back.

If you can have it done by a reputable outfit then go for it. Just remember this is someplace where you do not want to be cheap.


February 22, 2007, 04:05 PM
The best money I ever spent. Go for it, you won't regret it.

February 22, 2007, 04:33 PM
Just remember if you ever want to become a pilot you will not be able to pass a flight physical once they do the procedure.

Thin Black Line
February 22, 2007, 04:37 PM
Got mine done at Global Laser Vision in San Diego, CA this year. It was approx. $1200 with military discount (which took about $85 off).

LOL, ok, that discount won't cover my air fare.

Army did my eyes, it was like night and day.

Really? Please pm w/ more info.

Thanks for the replies everyone. I had considered this years ago when the
price was much more. Also, when I got tested for it, someone double dropped
my eyes for the dilation during the exam and I was near-blind for the rest of
the day. Plenty of times when wearing polycarb corrective lenses have also
been helpful safety-wise, too.

February 22, 2007, 05:27 PM
Just remember if you ever want to become a pilot you will not be able to pass a flight physical once they do the procedure.

you mean a military pilot or just a private license? they'd prefer you have glasses instead?

February 22, 2007, 05:37 PM
I'll talk in general terms because I just can't remember the terminology.
But, my best friends older brother is a United States Marine and has had the eye surgery.

The Marine Corps said that Lasic was not "hardy" enough for rifle firing / daily duty. Basically it is a clean slice off and let the slice re-heal.

The surgery Kevin was allowed to have (and this is where I do not remember his terminology) but once the lens was removed, they scuff up/rough up the two mating surfaces of the operation, allow a better heal/seal for the surgery.
Allow them to shoot, jump fight with out the worry of the Lasic smooth cut surgery "popping out/off" during hard use.

Hope my generalizations... help.


February 22, 2007, 05:49 PM
i got zyoptic, a slightly more invasive form of lasik, better for people with worse eyesight.

im 22 years old, and have had it done for just a bit over a year i think. . .it took my eyes about 8 months to 'settle' until that point i had astigmatism that was changing angles, so my vision was improving and degrading slightly over that time frame. It was a bit frustrating, and for a long time i had trouble focusing on the front sight, and it was especially noticable when i tried to focus to shoot a bow. now that my eyes are settled, im very pleased. i went from -5.5 in each eye to 20/20- but you have to be patient for your eyes to heal up.

February 22, 2007, 07:15 PM
I guess i'm about to find out since I have my Intralase LASIK surgery TOMORROW :p

I'll post something on this thread over the weekend and let you know. I might not be allowed to shoot right away. My doc is a big heavy recoil fanatic, so he says I should be good to handle 458 Lott after this procedure :eek: . Not that I'm about to - I can handle 30-06 heavy loads and that's my comfort level Supposedly, this relatively new procedure does not use a scalpel to cut the cornea flap, but another kind of laser to make the flap

February 22, 2007, 07:28 PM
I had my cataracts removed 2 years ago and then the laser to clear up the fluid in the eyes this year as well. I used to see a 10 inch target at 50 yards as a mis-shaped gray blob. Now I shoot 200 yards with iron sights, and I'm fairly good at it too. Oh, and I no longer wear glasses after 45 years of hating them.

I don't think it gets much better then all that........

February 22, 2007, 07:37 PM
I haven't shot rifle since mine was done 2 months (weather has sucked whenever I have free time) ago but I might this weekend. Handgun shooting is as good if not better than with glasses or contacts.
Supposedly, this relatively new procedure does not use a scalpel to cut the cornea flap, but another kind of laser to make the flap
That's what I had. I'm sure they'll tell you, but you go blind for a minute in the eye they are cutting the flap on (suction thing puts just enough pressure on your eye to stop movement and cut off the vision while it does it's thing). That was the weridest part for me. Wasn't a big deal at all though (the valium might have helped that :p )

February 22, 2007, 08:00 PM
Discount LASIK sounds alot like discount parachute packing to me.;)

So if I were to get LASIK there is chance that I could get disattached lenses from heavy recoil?


I'll have to look into that.

February 22, 2007, 09:57 PM
consider going to Montreal.

they've been doing Lasik in Canada for ~ 10 years longer than they have in the states.

the exchange rate isn't as good as it used to be, but I'm told it's still about 40% cheaper.

make it a vacation long weekend and get your eyes zapped to boot.

February might not be the best time to go that far north.....:eek:

unless you can get tickets to see the Habs. :)

February 22, 2007, 11:19 PM
True story.

Had a co-worker get a botched LASIK in Canada. She is no longer able to work as a commercial pilot as eyes tend to be important in this job.

Now she is out of work and has little or no legal recourse as the procedure was done in Canada.

She is basically blind and shut out for life.

February 23, 2007, 01:02 AM
Be careful... Getting eye surgery is not something in which you should go cheap. My cousin had Lasik performed by some guy advertising on TV, because he was the cheapest in town. The first sign of trouble was relentless intense pain for more than 2 weeks after the procedure. It left him practically night-blind, and even during the day his vision isnt very good. Theres not alot he can do about it, because they have you sign waivers/releases/etc.

On the other hand, my mom and little brother had "Intra-Lasik" done a few years ago. They now have great vision... however they each paid 3x more than my cousin.

February 23, 2007, 01:40 AM
TBL...I started shooting in 1989 and did it a lot. By the late 90's my right eye (my dominant eye) started going bad (nearsited). Anything past about 12" started to get blurry and got worse the further I looked. I got glasses but I hated wearing them so never did (my left eye took over past 12" so I could drive, etc and still see clearly but w/no depth perception.). Shooting started to fade as life got busy and my shooting eye got worse.
Then I met my wife (optometrist), tried contacts and hated those too but use them when quail/dove hunting just to hit something, or when I had to take a drivers test:uhoh:
Last year I went to TLC laser eye centers which my wife's practice is associated with and got my right eye fixed...went from 20-200 to 20-15.

The result--- I've shot more in the last 6 months then the last 6 yrs and bought 3 new firearms.

Do it, you won't regret it. And no, it doesn't hurt.

Like others have said...DO NOT GO's your eyes. I HIGHLY recomment TLC

February 23, 2007, 05:46 AM
Not to rain on this parade, but any medical procedure has positives and negatives.

Prior to Lasik, I was extremely near-sighted, but had developed presbyopia as I became older. Since I could only see clearly in a range of 0-6" from my nose, the effect of presbyopia moving the focal range to 1-7" from my nose was not noticeable.

Lasik changes the focal length of the eyes outward. In my case, the focal range is 24"-infinity. Yep, I now need reading glasses. Shooting a pistol, a scoped rifle, or a rifle with peep sights is marvelous. Rifles with open sights can be a problem if the rear sight is closer than 24".

February 23, 2007, 06:16 AM
My right eye focuses apx 6" to infinity now...most people will end up with reading glasses anyway starting around 40 or so, on average.

February 23, 2007, 06:54 AM
I had Lasik about 2.5 years ago. Went from 20/80 and 20/200 to 20/15 and 20/20 in about as longas it took me to type this. Best money I ever spent. Gon't go cheap on this one. Ask around many people will recommend the doctor they had or will not recommend the doctor they had depending on their experience. Ask the doctor you choose his success/ failure rate. If you think it's worth the risk pull the trigger on this one. I did and I'm extremely happy with the results

February 23, 2007, 07:08 AM
LASIK for me in 2001 with lifetime free corrections as 2200.00 and I would have paid double if need be. I couldn't use pistol or rifle iron sights at all before it now I am the most consistant shooter in my dept and am very good with my milsurps

Thin Black Line
February 23, 2007, 09:03 AM
Had a co-worker get a botched LASIK in Canada.

It's the botch part that conerns me. Kind of a "devil you know is better than
the one you don't." I have fully corrected vision with glasses that don't look
like coke bottles. I have excellent natural night vision and I don't want to eff
that up.

The pain or discomfort, if any, is not a concern. I attempted to pass an 8mm
kidney stone a couple of times before I had it removed. Pain is no stranger to

I'm just looking for a lot of responses from shooters since that would also feed
into other aspects of my outdoor lifestyle. Thanks again.

February 23, 2007, 09:45 AM
As I understand things, the military will not issue vision waivers for combat pilots if the laser eye surgury involves a corneal flap as opposed to a surface correction. PRK is very popular for that reason within certain circles - not only is it more stable, it also corrects astigmatisms much better and has little incidence of post-op 'halo' or 'starburst' effect when dealing with point light sources. Think of PRK as wavefront/InterLasik only on the surface instead of under a flap.

The only downside for PRK is that it hurst like the dickens for a couple of days (since the surface of the cornea is abraded by the laser) and the recovery period is significantly elongated relative to traditional or wavefront Lasik.

I had PRK done about a month ago. I'm currently 20:30 in my left eye but my right eye is healing much more slowly and I'm trying to remain patient while it heals. I've been told that it can take up to six months for the cornea to completely recover from the procedure.

It will be nice not to fog my glasses on a frosty morning trying to get a bead on a nice buck. :)

February 23, 2007, 10:53 AM
I agree with the "Don't go cheap" Had my eyes done 2 years ago and ended up with 15/20 vision. Best money I ever spent.

Plus I can now shoot with both eyes open, since the 15 is in my dominate eye. The higher power in that eye makes it great for aiming, doesn't matter what type of firearm pistols, rifles or shotguns.

I spent $2300 on AllegrettoWave Laser surgery. Kind of cool that if you move at all the laser detects the movement and adjusts.

Just make sure to ask for all the facts and figures......before picking the doctor.

February 23, 2007, 12:04 PM
The only con is
1. With aperture sights I experience a little bit of...not sure what to call it but there is a little bit of ghosting or something that makes the aperture appear smaller than it is? Not quite sure if I describe it correctly.
2. Night vision hasn't been the same since I got pepper sprayed.

Everything else says get your LASIK even if you have to sell a gun.

February 23, 2007, 01:05 PM
Completely OT (sorry)
Skunk WTH have you been friend?

It's like you dropped off the face of the earth a while ago.
Good to see you out and about again.

***** Now we return you to your topic *****

February 23, 2007, 01:29 PM
OK, let me break this LASIK thing down in simple terms, because the conversation has gotten a little complicated.

There are two primary types of surgery. One is called LASIK, and the other is called PRK, Radial Keratotomy (sp?), or sometimes just e-LASIK.

In the more modern type of surgery, LASIK, they basically cut a circle around your cornea and make a flap that they fold back, which opens up the eye so they can fire the laser inside and fix what's wrong with ya. Then they close the flap and you're done. The upside is that there's virtually no pain, and you can see improvements almost immediately. The downside is that when the flap heals up it will sometimes draw the cornea up a little bit and it can become thinner than what it was before. For most people that isn't a problem and will never become an issue, but if you ever get an eye injury it can complicate things if your corneas are thin, which is why the military doesn't approve this procedure for its personnel.

The older version of the procedure is PRK or e-LASIK. In that one, instead of cutting a flap, they use alcohol to basically boil off the front of the cornea. The cells on the front there get about the consistency of mashed potatoes, and they just scrape them off to the side. Then they fire the laser into your eye, and when it's all done they scrape the cells back on the front. Then those cells have to be held in place with a 'bandage' contact lens for a few days until they heal up. Upside is you get a cornea that isn't any thinner than it was to begin with. Downside is that it hurts like hell while it's healing, and you don't get clear vision for a few days or weeks after the procedure as the cornea heals.

Long term success and improvement rates for the two procedures are nearly identical.

Last but not least - cheap LASIK.

The procedure is pretty much identical no matter how much you pay for it. The difference lies in the detail of scanning they do before the procedure. See, in order for the laser to know how to reshape the inside of your eyeball, it has to have a very accurate map of what the inside of your eyeball was shaped like to begin with. Cheap LASIK is cheap because they don't spend as much on the equipment that does the mapping beforehand. The safety is about the same, but by paying more you get a better map, which means you're more likely to end up with better vision. Instead of being 20/30 afterwards, for example, you may end up with 20/20 or better.

One specific piece of equipment that some of them use that I highly recommend is called a LADAR mapper. In my case, they were able to use that thing to get such a good picture of the inside of my eyeballs that they didn't just improve my vision to 20/10 in one eye and 20/15 in the other, they even made radical improvements to my night vision - which I hadn't expected at all. But facilities that have LADAR will generally cost you a little more.

Jorg Nysgerrig
February 23, 2007, 02:27 PM
There are two primary types of surgery. One is called LASIK, and the other is called PRK, Radial Keratotomy (sp?), or sometimes just e-LASIK.

PRK, radial keratonomy, and e-LASIK/LASEK are not the same procedures. While PRK and e-LASIK/LASEK are similar, radial keratonomy is another animal altoghether.

* PRK: they basically remove the epithelium, laser what's exposed, then let it grow back.
* LASEK/e-Lasik: they try to preserve the epithelium, moving it to the side as described above, lasering, and then replacing it attempting to make the recovering go more smoothly.
* LASIK: they cut a flap in the cornea with a little blade, flop it over, laser, flop it back.
* intraLASIK/All Laser LASIK: they cut the flap with a laser as opposed to the blade.
* radial keratotomy/RK: This is "old-school" vision correction and not done much these days. This is where they sliced a pattern of cuts into the cornea to adjust the shape of the eye.

Now, having done PRK a month ago, I've got to say the difference is incredible.

My advice is to go to a few different doctors to get screened. I had 2 tell me that I should avoid LASIK, but PRK would be ok. Another told me I was a perfect LASIK candidate and that I should check out the special they are having until the end of the month.

Since the screenings are usually free, I think it is worth taking a couple of afternoons off to get some different opinions.

February 25, 2007, 11:40 AM
As of this time of writing, I'm into the 2nd day of recovery after LASIK. My vision tested at 20/15 after the first day post-op. I spent part of yesterday testing my ability to focus on the black partrige front sight of my revolvers in a dimly lit room; and it was fantastic. I was never able to focus so well even with corrective contacts.

I agree with all the other posters on not going cheap; also you need to find a doctor who has done thousands of procedures successfully. It's cost me 3500 USD for the Intralase + Wavefront laser. As for pain, I had mild pain/burning after the drops wore off. Slept for 3 hrs after surgery and woke up with zero pain, irritation or burning. In fact, as I type this I have to consciously remind myself that I had eye surgery just 2 DAYS ago..!!!

So far so good with the vision improvement thing. I'm going to hit the archery range next week and the rifle range a week later (to avoid getting powder/solvent in my eyes for a few weeks) :banghead: .

I can't wait :D :D

February 25, 2007, 02:42 PM
I've been wanting lasik for a while but didnt have the financial resources till recently to get it. My opti-doc says I'm a perfect canidate for it too. My only question is on the night vision side of things how have you all come out? I've got great NV right now and really dont want to lose it. Thanks!


Thin Black Line
February 25, 2007, 05:50 PM
A dr I've known and trusted had it and he liked it. He hasn't looked back since :cool:

February 27, 2007, 10:42 PM
I have halos at night. For me they are a small annoyance to day to day life. Not sure how much it would affect shooting at night. For me it's like when your glasses prescription would be a little off, when that happened I'd get little halos around lights.

Hope that helps. It's not perfect, but waking up and functioning without glasses or contacts is life changing.

February 27, 2007, 11:52 PM
I had Lasik done in Winnipeg in 1997. It was BY FAR the best money I've ever spent. I went from 20/525 left eye-20/550 right eye to 20/15 left eye-20/10 right eye. In addition to the benefits in everyday vision clarity without the aid of contacts/eyeglasses, I figure I've saved about five grand in the nine years since I had my procedure done by not paying for new contacts, eyeglasses, and eyecare products.

I can't recommend the procedure highly enough. I did my research beforehand, and found that despite the low price in Canada at the time ($1000/both eyes vs. $4000+ in the US) they were using a newer generation of laser equipment with better success rates. The best thing to do is ask around at your local vision centers (Vision World, LensCrafters, Pearle, etcetera) and see which ones they steer you away from (obviously, they're not going to RECOMMEND a Lasik procedure, since it cuts into their business!) My wife is an optician who has worked in retail outfits like the ones mentioned above for 15 years, and they have a good handle on who does a good job with Lasik--they get to try to fix the very few "botched" jobs, and they know where the botched jobs are coming from.

Good luck with your prospective Lasik procedure! If you go through with it, you WILL NOT regret having it done.

February 28, 2007, 12:23 PM
I had wavefront Lasik about 3 years ago (through TLC--ran me I think $3800 including lifetime corrections). It was the best money I ever spent. The downside was I saw halos at night for about 3 months.

If you're serious about shooting, make sure you tell the doctor that your primary concern is being able to focus on the front sight. Know what that distance is. Otherwise, he's going to assume you want to focus on infinity like everyone else.

March 2, 2007, 02:18 AM
I had Lasik about 2 years ago at one of the top surgeons in my area. I researched it intensively and chose a surgeon that had a lot of great recommendations and was using the best equipment available on the market at the time. Bottom line was about $4100, which was middle-upper end for the area. End result: left eye is perfect, right (dominant) eye is 20/20 but with a very slight vertical double vision. The surgeon does not want to try a touch-up, as the vision is 20/20 and has a high probability of getting worse if a touch-up is attempted. I used to shoot competition indoor smallbore when I was younger, and don't feel that I could be competitive with irons in that venue at this point. That said, I do not have difficulty with scopes, or with "hunting level" accuracy with irons or bowhunting. Do I wish it was a better result...yes. Do I feel like I got my money's worth from the surgery...yes. I no longer have to wear glasses or contacts, and feel that my quality of life has improved as a result. For those reading this, don't be discouraged from getting the surgery. Just do your research and be aware that not every result is perfect.

March 2, 2007, 03:29 AM
I want to get lasik really bad. I work for the YMCA right now and there is an offer for a reduced price of $350 per eye for YMCA employees, I think I am going to take it up haha. I have a lot of trouble with my AK's sights right now and I think it should help.

March 2, 2007, 10:47 AM
This is a very informative thread.

I've looked at such surgery but was told by my eye doctor that even if I had it I would still have to wear contacts. My prescription is -9.00 in both eyes. :(

This was years ago, maybe they have a procedure now that can fully correct my vision, or at least maybe one day...

March 2, 2007, 11:40 AM
going cheap???

My response about Canadian prices was interpreted by some as advocating "cheap" eye surgery. Poor choice of words on my part.

note my opening line.....they've bee doing it ~10 years longer in Canada!!!

Some Canadian Docs have a LOT more experience.

Lower cost doesn't always imply lower quality and Canada isn't exactly the third world.

As far as legal recourse goes, I'm wondering if you guys who have had the procedure had to sign any "risk acceptance" or "liability waiver".

I haven't had LASIK and I don't know.

I think my current eye doc. is awesome!!! One of the best I've ever had and he tells me that all of these procedures have some level of risk for a poor outcome.

I've worn glasses and contacts since grade school and would love to lose the "ball and chain". But since my corrected vision is slightly better than 20/20, my night vision is good and I get along well with contacts when I want to "do sports" (i.e. a fog free day on the snowmobile), my doc doesn't recommend taking any level of risk with my vision.

If I could afford the procedure, maybe I'd consider it. But given my docs advice and my financial isnít going to happen any time soon.

March 2, 2007, 11:42 AM
Thank you to everyone who has shared your experiences. I have read the thread and decided to get it done too. I have researched Dr's in my area and through referals I have chosed Dr. Mahoney of Beverly Hills, He's the one on ABC's Extreme Makeover, (our friend was the Executive Producer), in addition he's done some really famous people. He's charging $3,200 per eye and I've decided I'll go with the wavefront technology. Cost is not as much a factor as the quality of the work.

I'll check in as I go through the process and let you all know how it's gone. My wife says my nose is not straight. Lookis like I need to find a lefty to give me a good swat to straighten it out.

Thanks again for sharing your experiences I can't wait to actually see the clock on the nightstand clearly.

Northslope Nimrod
March 2, 2007, 05:04 PM
The main REASON I had the surgery was for hunting. I hated dealing with glasses and contacts while hunting. Glasses were terrible. Sun would glare off the dust that would settle on my glasses. I left my glasses in camp one day. :banghead: That was the last straw. My eyes have been great since surgery.

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