Careers: Military--Army, Navy, Airforce, Marines, Coast Guard/Keratoconus

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Question
I am attempting to pursue my dream of joining the USAF and becoming a PJ. I am a reservist in another branch with about five years in. I was able to obtain an approved dd-368 and began the enlistment process with the AF. Everything was going fine until I went to meps and was diagnosed with keratoconus. I was PDQ and my waiver was denied.

I have received collagen crosslinking (C3R) from Dr. Boxer Wachler as you recommended in another one of your answers. My vision is stable after one year and I am eligible to get PRK to correct any remaining astigmatism. I am grateful that I was able to join the military in the first place and that this was treated early on, and that I don't even require glasses.

My question is at this point is there anything I can do to join the AF. After reading many articles it seems like my only hope is to wait for FDA approval(2014?), and a possible policy change, which may take years and seems very unlikely.

Answer
Josh,
For those who are reading this for the first time, we’re talking about where the corneal collagen is crosslinked with the help of ultraviolet rays ( UVA ) and a photosensitiser, Riboflavin , thus enhancing the rigidity of corneal tissue and stabilizing the condition.  Someone with keratoconus will notice that vision slowly becomes distorted. The change can stop at any time, or it can continue for several years. In most people who have keratoconus, both eyes are eventually affected
Congratulations on fixing your eye problem.  Regardless of what the military says, isn’t it nice to see clearly.   I’ve heard nothing but good words from patients who*/ have done this. I hope you think it was worth the trip down to Hollywood to see Dr Baxter Wachler.  Although CXL was first used 6 years ago, it is still not approved by the FDA.  Traditionally the military does not adopt a new  procedure or drug until after the FDA approves it.  Cross-linking was fully approved for use in Europe in January 2007 and almost all other countries have now approved its general use to treat Keratoconus.  FDA clinical trials took place in the United States in 2008 and at least one company has completed those trials and submitted their results The FDA is expected to release its decision soon.   You think the military moves slow, wait ‘til you deal with the FDA.
Currently, the mainstay of treatment for Keratoconus include glasses and / or specially designed rigid Keratoconus does not make people go blnd. However, the changes to the cornea will make it impossible for the eye to focus without eyeglasses or contact lenses. Keratoconus can be dangerous if laser vision correction surgery – LASIK or PRK – is performed on the eye because it may worsen the condition .
Usually it appears at puberty and is progressive until the third or fourth decade of life when it usually stops.
For most people with keratoconus, the only treatment needed is the correct prescription for eyeglasses or gas permeable contact lenses.
A small number of cases of keratoconus keep getting worse, however, and, eventually, contact lenses cannot give clear vision. In other cases, the keratoconus or the use of contact lenses over the years will have side effects can make the cornea cloudy.  When these things happen, corneal transplantation might be the only answer.
So hang in there and keep trying.  Or you could do like most people and lie about ever having it.
I hope it all works out well for you.
Colonel H

Careers: Military--Army, Navy, Airforce, Marines, Coast Guard

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MARK A. HOWELL

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All military questions, any Service. 30 years experience & two Ph.D.'s. 4 times Base Commander. Worked with Army, Navy, USMC, USCG and several foreign military units. Veteran of Kosovo, Bosnia, Macedonia, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and 10 civil wars in Africa.

Experience

Air Force Colonel with 30 years experience. Air Force Base Commander 4 times. Highly decorated.

Organizations
Org of Am Historians, Wild West History Assoc., Disabled American Veterans - Life Member, Am Motorcyclist Assoc. - Life Member, North Am Hunt Club - Life Member, NWTF - Life Member

Publications
Numerous book reviews published in the Journal of American History. Two books submitted for publication. Co-Author of two more. Eisenhower memorial Library (interview with U.S. Presidential chaffeur

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. in military history, Columbus University (Summa Cum Laude) Ph.D. in history, London, England (Summa Cum Laude) Master of Arts degree in history, Marshall University, WV Bachelors degree, double-major in history and mathematics, Salem College, WV Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL Squadron Officer School, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL

Awards and Honors
Legion of Merit, Defense MSM, 5 Meritous Service Medals,Joint Commendation Medal AF Commendation Medal Army Commendation Joint Achievement Medal AF Achievement Medal Outstanding Volunteer Medal Total of 33 Medals and 43 Ribbons

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