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News Release

Monday, January 26, 2004
Contact: Edmund Byrnes
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Issues Memo on the Employment of Individuals Who Have Undergone Vision Correction Procedures

James removes current automatic exclusion of law enforcement positions

Washington, D.C. - As a part of her continuing effort to ensure a level playing field for workers in the Federal government, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has issued a memo updating and clarifying information about employing individuals who have undergone vision correction procedures. The memo supercedes a 1987 OPM memo on medical qualification standards which had recommended certain law enforcement positions among others would be disqualified if the applicants had undergone certain eye operations. The new memo emphasizes that such surgery generally produces markedly improved distant vision with minimal complications.

Discussing the need to maintain a qualified pool of job candidates, OPM Deputy Associate Director Abby Block said, "You should not automatically disqualify individuals for law enforcement or other safety sensitive/critical work, nor place them on restrictive duty status, simply because they have undergone refractive eye surgery. Instead, you should evaluate, on a case-by-case basis, whether or not the individual has any postoperative complications that may adversely affect safe and efficient job performance."

In particular, the James memo stresses the fact that "If the individual has no current postoperative complications, and is able to perform the work safely and efficiently, then the individual should be allowed to resume or be considered for full and non-restricted law enforcement or other safety sensitive/critical work."

"President Bush has made it clear that the federal government must be a model employer, and he has challenged us to lead by example when it comes to tearing down the barriers that prevent full participation of every American," said James. "We are indeed in a hiring mode, and OPM is proactive in championing initiatives that will attract the best and brightest."

For the complete text of the memo, please visit

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OPM leads and serves the Federal Government in enterprise human resources management by delivering policies and services to achieve a trusted, effective civilian workforce. By Empowering Excellence in Government through Great People, we provide leadership and support to U.S. agencies on issues including human resources policy and oversight, background investigations, federal employee benefits, retirement services, guidance on labor-management relations, and programs to improve workforce performance. For more information, visit or follow OPM on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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