Optometry clinic keeps eyes on the mission

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kyla Gifford
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
The 30th Medical Operations Squadron optometry clinic provides care to nearly 3,000 members of the 30th Space Wing, tenant units, retirees and dependents - with services ranging from routine eye care to glasses and contact lens fittings.

The three personnel assigned to the clinic provide high quality ocular and vision care to keep military personnel ready to support the mission.

"We have two technicians and one doctor, but we also have an intern program," said Staff Sgt. Fred McCree, 30th MDOS optometry NCOIC. "Local fourth year optometry students come here every nine weeks and help out as volunteers for their internship."

Even with low manning the optometry clinic offers eye exams, flight physicals, glasses and gas mask insert fittings, contact lens fittings and pre and post-op corneal refractive surgery exams.

"The main obstacle is access to care for all of our enrollees," said Capt. Richard Reinert, 30th Medical Operations Squadron optometry element chief. "Many bases only see active duty for example, but here we have traditionally seen active duty, dependents and retirees. Lately, we have had to limit some of our access to care due to just having one doctor here now."

The clinic also supports the Air Force's Corneal Refractive Surgery Program, which is offered to active duty personnel. Refractive eye surgery is used to improve the state of the eye and decrease or eliminate dependency on glasses or contact lenses. When an Airman meets the criteria and has completed the necessary tests, their package is submitted to Travis Air Force Base where the procedure is done.

"This is a major program that we have here, which has been highly successful in keeping our Airmen and personnel mission ready," said McCree.

Comprehensive exams cover tests for visual acuity, peripheral vision, and screenings for health problems such as glaucoma and diabetes. Prescriptions and other illness detections would not be possible without the knowledge and high tech equipment the clinic uses.

"I had a patient come in for a routine eye exam with no complaints, and during the exam I found a suspicious lump in the eye," said Reinert. "I referred them to a specialist, and it turned out to be a lymphoma that required immediate removal and radiation treatment. Had it worsened, they may have lost their eye and it could have potentially spread to other parts of the body, but it was successfully removed and treated."

The small team of optometrists and technicians at Vandenberg prove to be a vital part of the health and well-being of service members and their families.

"I love to see a patient come in with a particular condition - frustrated, mad, upset -- then come through our clinic and leave with a smile," said McCree. "Taking care of our patients and making sure they get what they need is always fulfilling. If our Airmen are not able to see, how can we accomplish the mission?"

The clinic's hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and appointments can be scheduled by calling 805-606-2273.