Optometry: "Without us, you're flying blind!"
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Flying blindfolded is never a good idea and thanks to a team of optical specialists at Misawa's 35th Medical Group, Airmen and their families are seeing clearly at work and home.
"People can't see without us," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Hutchinson, a 35th Aerospace Medicine Squadron optometry technician and Cincinnati, Ohio, native. "Without your vision, you can't get the mission done."
Misawa's optometry flight looks after the ocular health for both those who wear corrective lenses and with perfect vision.
"Nothing can affect the mission as quickly as losing your eye sight," Hutchinson said adding that they're the only U.S. eye treatment facility in northern Japan.
The clinic offers routine eye exams every year or as needed for active duty service members to maintain fitness for duty. For active duty family members, exams are conducted once a year and every two years for all other TRICARE Prime beneficiaries.
"It's very important for the kids to see us too, not just their parents," said Maj. Ronny Bowman, a 35th AMDS optometric physician and Paris, Arkansas, native. "If they can't see the whiteboard in school, they're not able to learn."
Optometry provides optional well-child eye exams every two years between the ages of three and six which includes a screening for lazy eye and crossed eyes.
"Depending on what we find, we may not be able to treat a patient here and in the worst cases, they'll be seen by an ophthalmologist in Hawaii," Hutchinson said. "We make sure the service member and their families are provided with the best possible optical health care while ensuring the base's flying mission remains at the forefront of everything we do."
Hutchinson said they support the pilots directly and is why they're strategically located adjacent to flight medicine.
"Without us, they're flying blind," Hutchinson said as he explained that even the smallest eye issue could ground a pilot for a few days or more.
For more information or if you're experiencing any eye problems, never hesitate to call the optometry flight at DSN 226-6040.
"The Air Force takes optometry very seriously both here and when you're deployed," Bowman said. "If you can't see them [the enemy], you can't shoot them."