Optometry: key to mission support

Maj. Oscar Corredor, Aerospace Medicine Flight Commander, exams a patients eye Sept. 22 at the Columbus Air Force Base medical clinic. The optometry clinic is well equipped with the latest technology to fully assess the health of the visual system. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Daniel Lile)

Maj. Oscar Corredor, Aerospace Medicine Flight Commander, exams a patients eye Sept. 22 at the Columbus Air Force Base medical clinic. The optometry clinic is well equipped with the latest technology to fully assess the health of the visual system. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Daniel Lile)

2nd Lt. Rogelio Castaneda, 14th Student Squadron, gets his eye examined Sept. 22 at the Columbus Air Force Base medical clinic. The 14th Medical Operations Squadron optometry clinic provides care to nearly five thousand members of the 14th Flying Training Wing, tenant units, retirees and dependents with services ranging from routine eye care to glasses and contact lens fittings every month. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Daniel Lile)

2nd Lt. Rogelio Castaneda, 14th Student Squadron, gets his eye examined Sept. 22 at the Columbus Air Force Base medical clinic. The 14th Medical Operations Squadron optometry clinic provides care to nearly five thousand members of the 14th Flying Training Wing, tenant units, retirees and dependents with services ranging from routine eye care to glasses and contact lens fittings every month. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Daniel Lile)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- You can breathe with an iron lung, and you can run with a prosthetic leg, but the one thing you can’t do is see with a glass eye. 

The medical professionals at the optometry clinic work hard to ensure the two irreplaceable organs in your head stay healthy.

The 14th Medical Operations Squadron optometry clinic serves Team BLAZE’s Airmen, dependents, retirees and tenant units in a variety of ways.

“For the optometry clinic here at Columbus Air Force Base, the mission is all about keeping our flyers flying and to support our active duty force,” said Maj. Oscar Corredor, 14th MDOS Aerospace Medicine Flight Commander. “Any problem related to the eyes could affect our guys while they are in the sky. It’s our job to keep them doing what they do and doing it safely.”

While their top priority is keeping the pilots healthy enough to execute the mission, the clinic strives to help anyone who comes their way.

“Our goal is 100 percent support,” Corredor said. “We try to keep our doors open to everyone on base. We see active-duty members, retirees, dependents and international students; everyone (all DoD ID card holders), you name it.” 

The optometry clinic is well equipped with the latest technology to fully assess the health of the visual system. Exams cover tests for visual acuity, peripheral vision and screenings for health problems such as glaucoma and diabetes.

“We head a variety of programs, with the exception of corneal refractive surgeries which we defer to Keesler Air Force Base,” Corredor said. “Corneal refractive surgeries are good in the long run. They enhance readiness by removing the need for glasses, contacts or gas mask inserts.”

Much of the support offered by the optometry clinic is in the form of managing aviator-related eye issues and waivers. Aeromedical waivers are pursued and in most cases granted for those individuals who do not meet medical standards for flying duties. Over half of the base’s aeromedical waivers are eye related and most commonly in the form of depth perception, color perception and other eye related problems, Corredor said.

Especially in waivers, the optometry clinic works closely with the other functions of aerospace flight medicine.

“Nobody realizes how these different areas function together,” Corredor said. “You might think optometry has nothing to do with flight medicine and bioenvironmental has nothing to do with public health, but the reality is the needs of the patient are often connected to these other functions.”

The clinic’s hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and appointments can be scheduled by calling the eye clinic directly at 434-2331.