For many deploying soldiers, there are many worries - making sure their families will be taken care of, making financial arrangements, and making plans in case the worst happens. The last thing most soldiers with vision problems want to deal with is worrying about their glasses or contacts, especially if they head into a country like Iraq, where the conditions are less than ideal for soldiers wearing contact lenses. However, soldiers in Iowa are being given laser eye surgery to alleviate some of those concerns.
According to Maj. Mike Wunn of the Iowa National Guard, "Afghanistan, Iraq, places like that, they're dusty and they're dirty. Soldiers don't always have access to the best sanitation conditions." Tess Young of the Iowa Academy of Opthamology adds, "There is what they call moon dust that permeates everything in Afghanistan, and contacts are virtually impossible." Wunn continues, "If you have glasses, that can interfere with the protective eyewear. If you're wearing a protective mask, it can interfere with that."
Fortunately, doctors with the skill to perform eye surgery like LASIK have stepped forward to help. According to Dr. Chris Haupert of West Des Moines, "All of the laser eye surgeons across the state have come together and agreed to participate in the program and provide that surgery at a discount for the Iowa National Guard troops."
The surgeries are discounted, but some expenses still do occur. The surgeons have applied for another $50,000 grant to make the procedures even cheaper, but they need online votes to win the grant. People can learn more at the Sight for Soldiers website.