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Post-refractive surgery of Israeli Defense Forces recruits in 2005–2018—prevalence, combat unit drop-out rates and utilization of eye-care services



To assess the number of recruits for military service in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) who underwent refractive surgery prior to enlistment and examine whether the procedure affected their ability to accomplish combat training.


Medical records of IDF recruits.


Retrospective analysis of medical records of recruits with ametropia who underwent or did not undergo refractive surgery prior to enlistment.


Recruits were categorized into ametropes and recruits who underwent refractive surgery. Fitness and assignment to combat units and completion status of combat training were compared between the two groups.


The study included 334,688 (182,969 males, 151,719 females) ametropes of which 5231 (4753 males, 478 females) underwent refractive surgery prior to recruitment. Refractive surgery prevalence increased from 9/1000 ametropes in 2005 to 18.5/1000 ametropes in 2018 (r = 0.912, p < 0.001); 2643 of the operated recruits (50.5%) had their surgery at the age of 17–18. Dropout rates from combat training were significantly lower in the refractive surgery group during the study period (1.68% vs. 6.14%, respectively, p < 0.001). Soldiers in the operated group were more frequently referred to ophthalmologists than those in the ametropes group and less frequently referred to optometrists.


The prevalence of refractive surgery in IDF recruits has increased substantially during the last decade with more of them applying to combat units. Refractive surgery opened new possibilities for recruits who were unfit for combat duty prior to surgery and did not appear to impair the chances of successfully completing combat training.

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Data availability

The datasets generated and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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Authors and Affiliations



EG was responsible for the data collection, analysis, writing the manuscript and drafting the manuscript. EB was responsible for data collection, analysis, writing the manuscript. SS was responsible for data collection and analysis and critical review. DH, YN, EL, AG, and IB were also responsible for parts of data collection and critical review of the manuscript. All authors contributed to conceptualization and approved the final version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Irit Bahar.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Greenbaum, E., Barayev, E., Shpitzer, S. et al. Post-refractive surgery of Israeli Defense Forces recruits in 2005–2018—prevalence, combat unit drop-out rates and utilization of eye-care services. Eye 37, 1484–1488 (2023).

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