DoDMERB DQ? Lattice Degeneration


10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Dec 1, 2007
My son saw his ophthamologist last week because he was out of contacts. His vision corrects to 20/20, no astigmatism, -5.00 diopters both eyes. He was told he has a little lattice degeneration in the left eye and to have it checked in a year. His goal has been to enter the AFA or USMA in 2009. How much of an issue is this?
Lattice degeneration will be a disqualification from DoDMERB. Will he be able to get a waiver? It will be very difficult to receive a waiver. Lattice degeneration will get worse over the years, and it all depends on how advanced it is currently, and how much progression is anticipated over the next 24 years (4 years of school and 20 years of service).

I would let your son know upfront that it is going to be a challenge, and one that he may not be successful with, but that if this is what he wants, by all means, go for it! Just make sure he has a back up plan.

If you have any questions please let me know!!
My son saw his ophthamologist last week because he was out of contacts. His vision corrects to 20/20, no astigmatism, -5.00 diopters both eyes. He was told he has a little lattice degeneration in the left eye and to have it checked in a year. His goal has been to enter the AFA or USMA in 2009. How much of an issue is this?

I was a cadet in the class of 2006 at the Air Force Academy. Prior to entering the Academy, I met all the eye requirements (I did not receive a lattice examination, however) from an eye exam at a local DODMERB assigned othomologist. At the end of my dooley (freshman) year right before "hell/ I-week" in 2003, I had my first eye consultation with a USAFA doctor. The doctor diagnosed me with lattice degeneration in both eyes, and said I was disqualified from AF waiver could be attained. Their concern was that I could have a retinal detachment under high G forces. Of course I was heartbroken because I always dreamed of being a military pilot and just went through the most difficult year at the Academy. I was also very pissed that I was not told of this eye condition or tested for it before entering the Academy.

Lattice degeneration was disqualifying back then, but I am not sure if it still is today. After transfering to a civilian university, I entered a Marine Corps platoon leaders class which guaranteed meet a pilot slot ( When I went to the eye doctor at the Naval hospital in Key West, FL, I was actually granted a waiver to fly for the marine corps. This was back in 2004, so I am also unsure if this waiver still holds. It may be a case by case decision for the Marine Corps.

I also recently heard the AF is cutting down pilot slots once again, so they may be very reluctant to grant waivers. Medical conditions enable the AF to eliminate applicants from a their already huge selection pool.

Please tell your son to think seriously about entering the Academy and find out if lattice is waiverable or not before he enters. From personal experience, it was very painful for me to go there and work so hard, and then have my pilot slot taken away from me right when I had accomplished so much.
I'm sure this was extremely disappointing for you, but versions of your story happen all the time. People blow out their knees and are DQ'ed from flying. Happened to a guy in our company in the ND football game; went USMC ground and never got over the bitterness. My husband's roommate had SEVERE motion sickness and had to go CEC. Our flight surgeon joined the Navy (as a qualified doctor) to be a "jet pilot." Eyes went bad during training but he had already committed for four years so he spent them as a flight surgeon.

It is unfortunate that you weren't told of your condition early on. And I'm glad you found out in year 1 and not in year 3 and that it worked out for you in the end. But even someone who enters in "perfect" health may not graduate that way and must be prepared for the consequences.

Bottom line: Regardless of which SA you choose, be sure you want to serve in that service even if you are unable for whatever reason to select your chosen warfare speciality (e.g., pilot, sub, infantry). As an officer, you are never "guaranteed" anything in the military -- and, even if you are, it can be taken away in a heartbeat through no fault of your own. That's just the way it is.
Retinal thinning/lattice degeneration

Is retinal thinning or lattice degernation waiverable? Do all the services treat it the same? My son has an ROTC scholarship offer from all three services and a USAFA appointment. He knows he'll never be a pilot but is there any hope of a waiver.
As I stated above, it is very difficult to receive a waiver for lattice degeneration/retinal thinning.
my word.

I feel as if I am obliged to send in a positive note.

I'm an Asian Girl.
Myopia is more common in Asians because of excess studying.
My refraction was was over the -8 diopters. plus. I have the degenerative kind too.
I was also told I had retinal thinning. . high risk of detachment.
I went to ophthalmologists who told me to go to the ER if I starting seeing threads, or bright flashes.
So now you know how severe It is.
I also have the worst eyesight of anyone I know. including my grandma. . ^_^
I have the start of Lattice degeneration.

I managed to get a waiver.
It took a lot of work and stress. At one point I was missing school almost everyday to visit an eye doctor.
But It happens. It also doesn't hurt to be strong in the other 2 categories.
ie: academics and sports. volunteer and leadership stuff.

Be upfront and honest. send in a cover page with your personal comments.
tell them why you want it.

Sorry for preaching. but it really is possible if you work at it.
and if you don't get it. Plan B. .
good luck.
also keep in mind. I think Army is a bit more lax on medical standards than the others. . AROTC is not a bad thing.
I would not trust this post at all. This just seem so bogus to me. Especially the sentences about being Asian and having worse vision than her grandmother. Whoever is reading this particular post, do not take what Bumblebee wrote seriously. Please contact DODMERB to see what kind/if any waiver they grant for lattice degeneration for a pilot slot.

06Red, I'm going to leave your post in place even though it will upset some people, myself and I'm sure Bumblebee included, but I will tell you why I feel Bumblebee's post is spot on.

First, Asians do have a higher rate of myopia than Caucasians. The higher amount of myopia one has, the higher the risk of having lattice degeneration/retinal thinning. The thinner your retina, the higher chance of getting a retinal tear. I see nothing wrong with her stating her ethnic background, or that her vision is worse than her grandmothers. It is entirely possible.

Second, AROTC does tend to waiver some items more than some of the SA's, so in this case I have no doubt she received her waiver.

Third, nowhere in any of her posts has she stated that she is going for aviation slot.

Fourth, DoDMERB does not grant waivers. Waiver are granted by the specific services for the academies and ROTC programs.

Fifth, aviation waivers are not done until either the Junior or Senior year at the SA's or ROTC programs.

If you feel that someone has posted some erroneous information, please feel free to bring it to my attention, preferably through a PM and I will be more than happy to review it.
An addition to my previous post, it was brought to my attention that Bumblebee is going AROTC nursing program, I missed that in one of her previous posts.

The waiver authorities are more likely to waive some disqualifications for those entering the nursing programs for any service, than they would be for those just going regular ROTC. Nurses will not be war fighters, but war healers and as such will not be subject to the same physical rigors.

1. I'm Korean to be exact. I was adopted at the age of 3.

2. My waiver came from Ft. Monroe Cadet Command in VA.

3. If you have doubts 06RedBastards, I'm accepted to NMSU Army ROTC for Nursing.
I invite you to ask about me. My initials are CL. The phone numbers can be found per Google (the ultimate internet tool) .

4. I would never become a pilot. It's not my dream job by any means.
My dream is to become a nurse anesthesiologist.

5. I come from a military background. My father was a 30 year Dentac Colonel and a commander for 8 of those 30 years.

6. 06RedBastards, I feel that you have been unfair. I would prefer that you PM me next time to address any doubts. I will be more than happy to clear things out with you if you ever have any questions. Your post has most likely been discouraging to others who seek waivers.
I apologize Bumblebee if I offended you. I thought you were referring to an aviation spot and that it was a poster posing as someone else and trying to be funny. RetNavy, I completely understand what you are saying and understand that lattice may be waiverable to non aviation spots.
Once again I want to apologize if I offended anyone with my post. I jumped the gun and thought someone was posting misinformation about how to attain a pilot slot (since we were talking about pilot slots the entire time). Bumblebee I was actually worried someone was inpersonating an applicant and being sarcastic of how to attain a pilot slot. I am sorry that it came off wrong. I will be more prudent when I post. Thank you RetNavy for clarifying everything.
no worries. .

You had me alarmed at first O6redbastards. .
I take it that you must be vying for a pilot slot, or are currently in one.

I shall see you around the forums again i'm sure. .

thanks for apologizing. Good luck. :)