Eye see you: Ophthalmic technicians keep MacDill’s eyes on the mission

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rito Smith
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Army and Coast Guard all have something in common; they keep their eyes on the mission and work every day to reach their goals.

With a mission as important as MacDill’s, the base requires a group of Airmen to ensure service members are fit to deploy and carry out their daily tasks.

“In this career field, we take care of every branch of service assigned to MacDill,” said Senior Airman Sarai Boehm, an ophthalmic technician assigned to the 6th Aerospace Medical Squadron. “We screen patients and check if they need glasses or contacts, if they are colorblind to any extent, or if they have a depth perception problem.”

The technicians use many different types of equipment all with varying functions in order to get accurate measurements of the anatomy of each individual’s eyes, this includes taking photos before an operation

“One of the types of equipment we use is a Lensometer, which reads the prescription off of the lenses of the glasses you come in with,” said Senior Airman Herbert Hart, an ophthalmic technician assigned to the 6th AMDS. “Another important one we use is the Optec Vision Tester, which measures fusion, depth perception, and visual acuities for distance and near sightedness.”

Before they can learn how to use the different types of equipment Airmen must learn the basic fundamentals of their job.

“In order to be able to do what we do, we learn about the anatomy of the eye, common ocular diseases and the fundamentals of math and prescriptions,” said Boehm. “During our training, we actually go to a clinic where a doctor will show us the ropes for each of the screening machines we use.”

At MacDill between the two doctors approximately 13 patients a day are seen which varies due to them accepting walk-in patients totaling between 25 and 35 patients per day that get screenings, glasses fittings, or photos of their eyes taken.

“Every day we start by setting up the rooms and getting the machines started up and ready to go,” said Boehm. “Even though we start the day the same, each patient is different and that makes the job interesting.

“It’s exciting to learn all of the little things about a patient, whether it’s the minute details that make their prescriptions unique or the story of where they come from and how genuine they are.”

Although patients are not required to have an appointment yearly with optometry, Boehm stressed the importance of getting regular eye check-ups.

“You never think it’s going to affect you until you have vision troubles,” said Boehm. “The great part is that if it happens you can think, ‘Hey we have an optometry clinic and I can get this taken care of.’”