Dr. Steven Schallhorn

Steven Schallhorn, M.D. is in private practice in San Diego, CA and the Chief Medical Director for Optical Express, UK.  He retired from the Navy in February, 2007 as the US Navy’s Refractive Surgery Program Manager where he directed the center at the Naval Medical Center San Diego.  He was the founder of the Department of Defense refractive surgery program which now consists of over 20 centers providing mission-enhancing surgery to active duty personnel. He was the first surgeon in the DoD to perform LASIK and PRK procedures and implant phakic intraocular lenses.  Doctor Schallhorn has lead studies on the safety and effectiveness of refractive surgery with a special emphasis on evaluating the quality of vision.   He routinely receives consultation requests from governmental and civilian organizations around the world and was instrumental in the recent NASA approval of LASIK. Visit Dr. Schallhorn’s website

After graduating from Colorado State University, Captain Schallhorn entered the US Navy in 1977 and was trained as an F-14 naval aviator.  Following several deployments on USS Ranger, he was selected and served as a Navy Fighter Weapons School instructor (TOPGUN) teaching air combat to fleet fighter pilots.  While at TOP GUN, film screenwriter Jack Epps, Jr. interviewed him to get background for the movie Top Gun and, although the movie is a fictitious portrayal of Naval Aviation, some of the events in the movie were based on stories relayed by Dr. Schallhorn.  He then completed a medical degree at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, ophthalmology residency at the Naval Medical Center San Diego, and cornea fellowship at the Doheny Eye Institute, University of Southern California.

Dr. Schallhorn has presented over 200 papers and authored 33 book chapters and peer review articles.  He currently serves on the executive committee of the 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, and editor of the AAO ONE program.  He is a scientific reviewer for many ophthalmic peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, Ophthalmology, and Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.

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