Dr. Steven Schallhorn

Steven Schallhorn, M.D. graduated from Colorado State University and entered the U.S. Navy in 1977. Captain Schallhorn was trained as an F-14 naval aviator. He earned his medical degree at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and followed that with an ophthalmology residency at the Naval Medical Center-San Diego. He then completed a cornea fellowship at the Doheny Eye Institute, University of Southern California.

In 2007, Dr. Schallhorn retired from the Navy, where he served as the Refractive Surgery Program Manager and directed the center at the Naval Medical Center-San Diego. Dr. Schallhorn founded the Department of Defense refractive surgery program, which has grown to include more than 20 centers offering mission-enhancing surgery to active duty personnel. He has the distinction of being the first surgeon in the Department of Defense to perform PRK and LASIK laser vision correction procedures, as well as phakic intraocular lens implants. In addition to his tenure here at Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute Institute, Dr. Schallhorn serves as the Chief Medical Director for Optical Express, UK.

While in the Navy, following several deployments on USS Ranger, Dr. Schallhorn served as a Navy Fighter Weapons School instructor (TOPGUN), where he taught air combat to fleet fighter pilots. While at TOP GUN, Dr. Schallhorn was interviewed by screenwriter Jack Epps, Jr. while he prepared to write the movie Top Gun. In fact, although the film is a fictitious presentation of Naval Aviation, some of the events in the story were based on anecdotes provided by Dr. Schallhorn.

Dr. Schallhorn has participated in a variety of studies focused on the safety and effectiveness of refractive surgery, with a special emphasis on the evaluation of vision quality. He is honored to routinely receive consultation requests from civilian and governmental organizations across the globe, and Dr. Schallhorn was instrumental in NASA’s recent approval of LASIK.

Dr. Schallhorn has authored 33 book chapters and peer review articles and has presented more than 200 papers. He has also served as a scientific reviewer for the Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery, Ophthalmology, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, and other peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Schallhorn has served in a number of prominent positions, including:

  • Executive Committee – American Academy of Ophthalmology International Society of Refractive Surgeons
  • Chairman of the AAO ISRS Program Committee
  • Chairman of the AAO Refractive Ophthalmic Technology Assessment Committee
  • Editor of the AAO ONE Program
  • Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of California San Francisco


Achievements, Awards, and Honors

  • Physics scholar, 1973-1976, top physics student at Colorado State University.
  • Designated a Naval Aviator with the highest grade recorded in training squadron.
  • Qualified as F-14A, A-4 and F-5 aircraft test pilot with over 2,000 flight hours.
  • Winner of the 1981 annual F-14 fighter derby with the highest grade ever recorded in a scored air-to-air combat exercise.
  • Instrumental in winning the coveted “Mutha” and safety award for Fighter Squadron Two, 1981-1982.
  • Selected as one of the ten best carrier pilots on-board USS Ranger with over 300 arrested landings including over 100 night landings.
  • Selected among hundreds of highly qualified naval officers to serve as combat instructor at the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN).
  • A top lieutenant in competitive fitness reports at TOPGUN among highly screened peers while serving as training and safety officer.
  • Selected from below promotion zone to the rank of Commander, USN.
  • Instituted and directed the ‘visibility of air-to-air missiles’ project through the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory (NAMRL). This multi-year effort resulted in enhanced combat survivability of aircrew.
  • Selected in junior year of medical school for Alpha Omega Alpha honors society.
  • Graduated from medical school with honors, ranking in the top 5% of the class.
  • Selected as ‘Fellow of the year’ (1995/6) at the Doheny Eye Institute, University of Southern California.
  • Instituted a comprehensive review of medical standards for operators of Landing Craft Air Cushion Vehicles (LCAC). Performance standards were established, cognizant medical oversight was instituted (NAOMI), and the SEAOPS manual was revised as a result.
  • Principle investigator in Navy research on photorefractive keratectomy and LASIK.
  • Acknowledged expert in anterior segment surgery. Provided tertiary level care for active duty forces in the western hemisphere including penetrating keratoplasty, anterior segment reconstruction, and complicated cataract procedures. Many of these procedures involved repair of complex penetrating wounds. Highly sought by ophthalmology residents for teaching.
  • First surgeon in US Department of Defense to perform PRK, LASIK, and implant phakic intraocular lenses.
  • Acknowledged expert in refractive surgery. One of only a small group of excimer laser instructors in the US. Numerous requests to conduct nationwide training courses. Routinely receives consultation requests regarding refractive surgery from governmental and civilian organizations (NATO/Canadian/Australian military medical organizations, police and fire departments, major airlines, universities, etc).
  • Established and directed the first military excimer laser and refractive surgery center at the Naval Medical Center, San Diego, CA from 2005-2007.  Established six other Navy Refractive Surgery Centers at geographic locations within the U.S.
  • Selected to become the first Navy Refractive Surgery Program Director.
  • Recipient of the Navy Commendation, Achievement, Humanitarian, and Expeditionary medals.
  • Recipient of the “Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Award for Excellence in Military Medicine” as the ‘Best Doctor in the Military’, 1997. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (General Shalikashvili) and Zachary Fisher presented the award on 12 August, 1997.  It included a $50,000 research grant.
  • Recipient of the “Lans Distinguished Refractive Surgeon” award presented by the International Society of Refractive Surgeons and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, October 2004 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Recipient of the “Binkhorst” award and delivered the key note address at the annual 2007 American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons meeting in San Diego, California.
  • Twice recipient of The “Navy Legion of Merit”, the highest non-combat medal in the military, awarded for performance of meritorious service to the United States for his work in refractive surgery

If you have questions about how Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute Institute can help you meet your needs, or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact us today.

Latest News

close up eye

LASIK Eye Surgery Safety and Success Rates

When patients at Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute are considering LASIK, often their first question is “How safe is it?” The second is, “How likely is it to improve my vision?” In other words, how successful is the procedure? We love to answer these questions because a well-informed patient is […]

Continue Reading

First Vision Practice in San Diego to Offer the Light Adjustable Lens

At Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute, we are committed to bringing the latest vision care innovations and most advanced treatment options to our patients. We are excited to announce that we are the first practice in San Diego to offer the RxSight® Light Adjustable Lens™. This revolutionary intraocular lens (IOL) […]

Continue Reading

Coronavirus: A Note to Our Patients

Dear Valued Patient, As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has become an evolving public health issue affecting people at home and around the globe, the team at Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute want to stress that your health, safety and well-being are of the utmost importance to us. We would like to […]

Continue Reading