Surgical center solves peeper problems

  • Published
  • By Maj. (Dr.) Chantal Cousineau-Krieger
  • Ophthalmologist, 779th Medical Group
The Warfighter Eye Center at the 779th Medical Group on Joint Base Andrews, Md., provides state of the art corrective laser eye surgery for eligible active duty members. To date, in more than 10,000 treatments, 98 percent of patients no longer require eye glasses to correct their vision.

The Air Force offers two types of Corneal Refractive Surgery: Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis and PhotoRefractive Keratectomy. CRS is only available to active duty members, at least 21 years of age, who require distance vision correction.

"Laser eye surgery reshapes the cornea to eliminate refractive error and reduce or eliminate the dependency on glasses and contact lenses. This benefits active-duty members because it enables them to be fully mission capable without having to wear glasses, contact lenses or gas mask inserts," said Dr. James D. Colgain, 779th MDG optometrist.

The Warfighter Eye Center uses the latest in surgical equipment for precise and personalized treatments. More than 96 percent of patients achieve 20/20 vision or better with CRS.

"The effects are permanent, although a very small number of patients may need an enhancement or 'touch up' at some point in their lives due to variability in healing," Colgain said.

Wait time for an appointment at the 779th MDG Warfighter Eye Center is about two months and service members from all branches of service are scheduled equally. Wait time at other local military treatment facilities often exceeds one year.

The Warfighter Eye Center has a designated operating room suite, performs 20 refractive surgeries a week and evaluates more than 150 candidates a month. Surgeons from other medical facilities in the National Capital Region use our operating suites on a regular basis due to limited space at their facility.

"Patients from all over the world come to the 779th MDG for refractive surgery. Members frequently travel here on permissive TDY and we ensure all their required care is completed in one week. This is called our 'out of towner' program," Colgain said.

To apply for treatment, members must complete the following documents: refractive surgery application, commander's authorization, refractive surgery managed-care agreement and refractive surgery checklist. These may be obtained online at:

For more information, call the 779th MDG Warfighter Eye Center at DSN at 857-8306 or commercial at (240) 857-8306.