Military News

Monday, July 13, 2015

Optometry helps keep focus on the mission

by Senior Airman Areca T. Wilson
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


7/11/2015 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Successfully completing the mission is not only dependent on knowledge, but also on an Airman's ability to physically carry out the tasks required. The 31st Aerospace Medicine Squadron optometry clinic aims to eliminate blurred lines, and ensure each patient's eye health.

The optometry clinic's aims to provide vision care and support the mission by ensuring Wyvern Warriors are able to complete their duty both locally and in deployed locations.

"Our clinic's mission is to get all patients seeing 20/20 if possible," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joel Ives, 31st Aerospace Medicine Squadron NCO in charge of optometry. "We record any abnormalities within eye health."

Although the clinic provides service to all of Team Aviano, active-duty members take precedence to ensure mission productivity.

"Our main mission is to send our folks downrange and go to war," said Ives.  "If our members are unable to see clearly or sharply, accuracy in their tasks is not going to be the same and that may affect our mission."

The 3-person team conducts 300 eye exams every month. During each exam, technicians check for any changes in each patient's eyesight. They perform procedures to identify any diseases at the earliest stage possible.

"We dispense glasses to folks after sending their prescription to the labs in Germany," Ives explained. "Our clinic also provides different types of inserts for the gas mask and ballistic eyewear required by some deployed locations."

In addition to routine eye exams, the clinic offers single, bi-focal, tri-focal, spectacle and contact lens prescriptions to all active-duty personnel.

The optometry Airmen commit themselves to providing optimal care for their patients, but the services offered mean nothing if not utilized.

"We recommend people get their eyes examined every two to three years and dilated at least every three years," said Ives. "However, as an active duty member or dependent you are authorized to get an eye exam once a year and we encourage that."

In addition to yearly appointments, Team Aviano members can take daily precautions to help keep their eyes healthy.

Clinic staff recommends not sleeping with contacts, removing contacts if irritation occurs and giving eyes a break by looking away from computer screens at least for ten minutes every hour as well as lowering the brightness on electronic devices.

According to Ives, the clinic's staff is always ready to maintain the health of Wyvern warriors.

"We have the ability to maximize and see a lot of patients if we needed to," said Ives. "We are confident that we will take care of anyone who comes in."

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