Law enforcement ditching glasses and contacts

There are certain career fields where the ability to see well is a must. That includes law enforcement from police officers to sheriff's deputies and state troopers. More officers are ditching their glasses and contacts to go LASIK.

31-year-old Michael Narcisse is an eight year veteran with Louisiana State Police Troop D. He can barely remember a time before now that he could see clearly without the help of glasses or contacts. "I've always had a problem not seeing anything beyond about a foot, foot and a half," he said, "it was very blurry."

That near-sightedness forced Narcisse to always have his contacts in at work, with visual sharpness playing an integral role as a state trooper. "You can identify people, seatbelt misusage or usage, identifying scars or tattoos on subjects," he said.

Ophthalmologist Jon Yokubaitis at The Eye Clinic in Lake Charles has treated lots of first responders, military and law enforcement officers. He says glasses and contacts do not always mix well with high action jobs. "That can be a hindrance," said Dr. Yokubaitis. "Glasses can fall off or the contacts can fall out or give them trouble."

That can typically be avoided with refractive surgery, reshaping the cornea to see perfectly or close to it. "LASIK has provided a reliable alternative for them to get rid of the glasses or contacts and not have to worry about those situations," said Dr. Yokubaitis.

From start to finish, the entire LASIK procedure takes about ten minutes with the laser portion lasting only a matter of seconds. The results are typically seen the next day. "As soon as I walked out," said Narcisse, "as soon as I got up from the surgery table, I mean it was immediate."

Narcisse had the "Custom Vue" LASIK procedure, scanning his eye like a fingerprint of the cornea and matching the laser to his exact problems.  Now, his sight is perfect. "20/20 vision," said Narcisse, "I'm seeing like I've never seen before since probably age 7 or 8."

While insurance typically views LASIK as an "elective procedure" and will not cover its cost, the Department of Defense has established a program for military men and women. It's called the "Warfighter Refractive Eye Surgery Program" and covers LASIK so that corrective eyewear will not be needed in combat situations.

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