Having recently moved to Sydney with work, I remained in contact with an ophthalmologist from the Royal Singapore Air Force who was testing ICL surgery (see previous post) in an airborne military environment. The research included putting the test subject who had the ICL surgery into a centrifuge and running it up to 9-G’s, or nine times the force of gravity (click here for a 9-G centrifuge demonstration). Through many of these types of aggressive tests, new information came to light and as such was published as new research. A peer-reviewed medical article on the outcomes of ICL surgery when put under the pressures of a military aviation environment proved no adverse effects on the subject’s eyes or general health either during the tests or at follow-up analysis one year on. Surely this information would weigh in on the debate I was now engaged in with the Australian Defence Force. I decided to test this theory and write up another appeal.
Including all the previous research I had done on the comparisons of the approved PRK surgery and the ICL surgery, I added this new research into the mix and emphasised the outcomes of this military aviation focussed paper. The reply hadn’t come in a bit over a month so I decided to call up the recruiting office and check on the progress of my appeal. “Oh, I thought someone had sent you the letter” responded the amicable unknown cubical dweller, “Let me look for it and I’ll get back to you”. I know there were probably 100,000 things going on at the recruiting office, but to seemingly not have any tracking of an appeal irked me. After a few more phone calls and a couple of weeks, I was not shocked by the written response; “While initial results such as this are encouraging, the fact remains that we do not have sufficient long-term data to be able to recommend this procedure for aircrew”, paired with the usual golden sign-off, “…I wish you every success in your chosen civilian career”. I was once again left with the immense urge to keep fighting this decision from the questions I had in my mind, one of which was to do with the mention of ‘no long-term data available’ when, as part of my previous appeal, I had reviewed two separate ten-year peer-reviewed medical research papers on the long-term effects of ICL surgery versus PRK surgery.
Again at a juncture, I struggled to find more evidence in support of my corner. I subscribed to military news services and aviation medical journals, wrote to more ophthalmologists around the world, and sifted through countless forums to try and find any scraps of information to put together to make another case. It started to dawn on me that I wasn’t going to win this fight and throwing in the towel would save me a lot of time, and money. But an invitation to a gathering I would never forget had the propensity to change all that.