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Answers for Pilots: I can see clearly nowAnswers for Pilots: I can see clearly now

Still wearing glasses? If you dismissed the idea of having LASIK surgery years ago, you might want to take another look at it. You’ll be amazed at how much the technology has improved.

Still wearing glasses? If you dismissed the idea of having LASIK surgery years ago, you might want to take another look at it. You’ll be amazed at how much the technology has improved.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved laser corrective eye surgery in 1995. The technique has advanced to the point that ophthalmologists can customize the surgery through the use of wavefront-guided technology. This procedure has not only improved the accuracy and success rate for vision correction, but also has diminished the adverse side effects occasionally linked to conventional laser refractive surgery. Wavefront technology allows an analysis of each eye that is sensitive enough to measure very subtle distortions and imperfections. The information from the analysis is then used to perform a customized reshaping of the cornea.

LASIK surgery can correct each eye for nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, as well as certain combinations of these conditions (such as nearsightedness and astigmatism). LASIK cannot correct for nearsightedness and farsightedness in the same eye. If you wear bifocals or trifocals, LASIK can correct your distance vision, but you still are likely to need reading glasses.

Vision results have been very good with conventional laser refractive surgery, with the vast majority of patients achieving 20/40 vision and many reaching 20/20. About 10 percent of all patients experience problems or side effects after surgery and must wear corrective lenses to meet FAA vision requirements. The most common negative side effects involve problems with night glare, halos around lights at night, and poor night vision. The use of wavefront-guided refractive surgery achieves a higher level of accuracy than conventional laser technologies. Many patients achieve vision between 20/15 and 20/10, and night-vision problems are reduced.

The FAA allows most FDA-approved refractive procedures for all classes of medical certification. After recovery from the surgery, you may return to flying activities when your optometrist releases you to resume normal activities, and when your visual acuity meets the standard for the class of medical you hold. Your optometrist should complete FAA Form 8500-7, Report of Eye Evaluation, which you can print from AOPA’s Web site and bring to your next FAA medical exam. This report must verify complete healing; stabilization of visual acuity; and lack of side effects such as night glare, vision haziness, or eye discomfort.

Membership Q&A

Answers to frequently asked questions about your AOPA membership

Q: I’ve been a member of AOPA for years and I just received a mailing asking me to join. Why?

A: It sounds like we have you in our database two different ways. This can be caused by address or name variations such as a home versus work address, or your legal name versus a nickname. Although our computer system catches the majority of these duplicates, if you receive what appears to be an erroneous mailing, please call AOPA Member Services or send us an e-mail.

Q: Other than at the annual AOPA Expo, does AOPA provide any opportunities for members to chat about aviation-related ideas, experiences or questions?

A: On our Web site you can discuss aviation topics any day, any time in our members-only AOPA forums. With close to 10,000 pilots posting more than half a million comments so far, you’ll find plenty of aviation-related information, insight, and opinions. The AOPA forums keep you connected to the pilot community all year round. AOPA members can register for free to post in the AOPA forums. Visit the site to join.

Q: I’m receiving more renewal notices than I need. Can I get just one renewal notice sent to me each year?

A: Contact Member Services and we’ll update your mail preferences on your membership record. You’ll receive one notice just prior to your renewal month and will not receive any more if you respond promptly to that one. Or better yet, join the more than 175,000 members who take advantage of our easy Automatic Annual Renewal Plan. We’ll bill your credit card on the first day of your renewal month and you’ll receive a $4 discount when you enroll if you haven’t previously been enrolled in the program. If you use an AOPA Mastercard or Visa, we’ll give you a $2 discount every year that you continue to participate in the program.

Member Services contact information:

Phone: 800-USA-AOPA (800-872-2672), 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.

After hours: Renew your membership, reset your web password, or enroll in Automatic Annual Renewal using our self-service touch-tone phone option.

E-mail: [email protected].

Web: Update your personal information, renew your membership, and much more by clicking on the “View/modify your membership info” or “Renew your membership” links in the blue log-in box under the Membership Services tab.

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