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Can I join the armed forces if I’ve had laser eye surgery?

Published on 4th February 2016

The medical criteria that can exclude a person from joining one of our armed forces is extensive, and at one time included laser eye surgery. But not anymore!

Until recently there was some skepticism of the effectiveness of laser eye surgery which led to anyone applying to sign up being instantly rejected.

However, there is now over 20 years of history available on this eye surgery - enough to reassure those in charge that it is no longer a reason to exclude a person from forging a career in the military.

Can I join the armed forces if I’ve had laser eye surgery?

Here’s the current situation in regards to laser eye surgery for each of our armed forces:

Royal Navy
  • For those that have undergone laser eye surgery, they must be over the age of 22 on application, and months must have elapsed post procedure.
  • Laser eye surgery must have taken place at least 12 months prior to the medical examination.
Air Force
  • Laser eye surgery must have taken place at least 12 months prior.
  • You must be at least 22 years of age at your application.
  • The total pre-operative refractive error was not outside the limits for selection i.e. +6 or -6 dioptre in either eye and the best spectacle corrected visual acuity was within selection standards. 
  • Further specialist assessment will also be required following the pre-employment medical assessment to confirm ophthalmic fitness for recruit entry. 

Each case will still be considered individually at the time of application, but at least it’s not an immediate rejection.

If you are already in the military but would like laser eye surgery it is recommended that you consult your medical officer.

For further information about laser eye surgery click here.

To arrange a consultation and assessment please get in touch.


All eye surgical procedures carry a level of risk including not obtaining the desired outcome, through to varying levels of visual loss. Your eye surgeon will discuss the risks and benefits, including ones specific to your circumstances, at the time of your pre-operative consultation.