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UK Armed Forces (officer); any hope?

Posted: Tue 16 May 2017 1:14 pm
by Bawdy_927
Hi everybody,

I'm a new member, sorry i'm sure this has been discussed a lot before but I was unsure where to post.

I have KC, received cross linking in one eye about a year and a half ago and I currently wear soft contact lenses. With the lenses I have virtually no problems and my vision is generally A-okay, to the best of my knowledge (and check-ups) I am stable and well.

I am finishing up a degree at Durham University; projected a 2:1.

I have an application for Logistics Officer in the UK Navy progressing despite the fact I know my KC disqualifies me.

My question is this: does anyone know of anything I can do to dissuade them from giving me the cold shoulder? I am only trying to ride a desk and serve my country, I am under no illusion that KC prevents me from serving in a physical capacity and I have no desire to do so. But with the modern treatments available to us now I find it insane that I cannot work behind a desk for the Navy wearing contact lenses.. Would letters from my Ophthalmologist/Optician help at all? Or should I just stop wasting everyone's time and go and work in a f*cking bank..

Thank you for any responses, sorry again if there is somewhere else I should be posting this.

Thanks for hosting a safe and friendly place for KC sufferers to share problems; stay strong people.


Re: UK Armed Forces (officer); any hope?

Posted: Wed 17 May 2017 2:40 pm
by Anne Klepacz
Hi Richard and welcome to the forum.
This is something that the KC Group has taken up with the specialist medics for the Armed Forces, in response to a query last year from a member who was keen to join the Royal Navy. As you say, the current position is that KC is on the list of conditions that excludes anyone from being recruited into the military (although they're pretty good at making adjustments like moving someone to a desk job if they develop KC after joining). But we asked whether this exclusion policy could be reviewed for people who have had CXL and whose KC is now stable. The initial response we had was sympathetic, but any rule changes have to go through all sorts of reviews at various levels. I last chased this at the beginning of the year, when I was told a decision hadn't yet been made and things move very slowly! Would you be happy for me to copy the relevant part of your post to my contact who might be able to advise on your specific case and maybe chase the powers that be for a general decision on the policy?

Re: UK Armed Forces (officer); any hope?

Posted: Tue 10 Jul 2018 4:10 pm
by biggsandwedge

Just joined, I was wondering if you had any luck progressing this. I am interested myself in joining.

Thanks, Ross

Re: UK Armed Forces (officer); any hope?

Posted: Thu 12 Jul 2018 9:57 am
by Anne Klepacz
Hi Ross,
It's exactly 2 years since I first raised this with the Armed Forces and still no decision! I last heard 6 months ago that a corneal specialist had been asked to produce a report. I'll try chasing it again and let you know how I get on.

Re: UK Armed Forces (officer); any hope?

Posted: Wed 24 Oct 2018 10:45 am
by isyourmojofly

I'm in a similar(ish) boat. Had hoped to join the Army this year, but I've just discovered that KC is on the "no go" list of conditions.

My KC is mild; bad vision in one eye, but a contact lens is enough to make my vision near-perfect. No signs of progression since I was diagnosed, and I cope perfectly well without a lens, too.

Is there any news at all on this, or any sign that they might soften their stance?


Re: UK Armed Forces (officer); any hope?

Posted: Sat 27 Oct 2018 3:36 pm

Hope this could help

Best regards

Re: UK Armed Forces (officer); any hope?

Posted: Wed 10 Jul 2019 10:30 am
by borgmill

I was hopefully misdiagnosed many years ago with keratoconus and so far the only problem it's caused me is barring me from the RAF.
My understanding is that it's a condition where you can have little to no symptoms for your whole life, or it can be very severe and cause lots of problems for you and this doesn't seem to be reflected in the medical policy.

My plan is to go to an ophthalmologist and get 'undiagnosed' failing that I'll appeal the decision on the basis that I literally have no symptoms and it's stable and not getting any worse. Any chance of getting 'undiagnosed'?

I was also curious as to whether the specialist medics for the armed forces got back to you?

Thanks very much

Re: UK Armed Forces (officer); any hope?

Posted: Wed 10 Jul 2019 11:01 am
by borgmill
I was diagnosed with keratoconus in both eyes as a 15 year old and I have barely any symptoms other than a slight 'streak' in my right eye.
So far the biggest problem it's caused me is barring me from the RAF.
The armed forces stance is that ANY diagnosis is an automatic no. 'Whether you have, or have had"
I understand that the condition isn't necessarily black-and-white. You can have the tiniest 'amount' of keratoconus, or very severe keratoconus, and it can either be progressive or stable. My keratoconus may as well not be there as my short-sightedness causes me more trouble.
If I was diagnosed AFTER I had joined they would have probably retained me, and you can read about plenty of reservists, regulars in the UK, and US armed forces who have had long successful careers with a keratoconus diagnosis, that seems much more serious than mine (causes actual vision problems)

I plan on seeing an ophthalmologist and getting 'undiagnosed' as that seems to be my only hope of doing what I want to do.
I've read that corneal warpage can be caused by hydrogel contact lenses, I used these (badly) as a child to correct my short-sightedness, had serious trouble getting them in and out, and thus I suspect (hope!) that I damaged my cornea constantly jamming my finger into my eyes and was misdiagnosed with keratoconus just by having a slightly warped cornea, which I dont think disqualifies me from serving. Or at least that's the angle I'm going to take with the eye specialists.

I was also interested on whether the specialist medics in the armed forces got back to you, and any opinions on whether I'm likely to get my diagnosis reversed are welcome.

Thanks for reading,

Re: UK Armed Forces (officer); any hope?

Posted: Wed 10 Jul 2019 2:05 pm
by Anne Klepacz
Hi Borgmill,
If it's many years since your diagnosis and you continue to have negligible symptoms, it certainly seems worth a try to see an ophthalmologist and get 'undiagnosed'. I'm sure it wouldn't be the first time that an initial diagnosis turned out to be wrong. I've no idea how likely you are to be successful, but do let us know how you get on. You're absolutely right that the severity of KC varies a great deal - some so called 'subclinical' KC is only picked up when people go for laser treatment for short sight and it turns out their cornea is a little thinner than the average. And you're right that if the diagnosis came after you'd joined, there wouldn't be an issue unless the KC became severe.
Frustratingly, I had no reply to my chasing this up last year. I'll take a deep breath and try again!