For Optometrist Clarissa Prieto-Ayala every day is a chance for her to help an airman fulfill their duties.
“We have 30-minute eye exams but we also have students, current students from the externship program that help us with that load,” Prieto-Ayala, a civilian optometrist, said.
“Here we actually see all active duty members, all dependents and all retirees that are here in the local area, so a lot of people don’t think we see everybody, but we see everybody,” SSgt. Tawny De Nio, with the NCOIC Optometry Clinic, said.
Technicians are trained to do a little more than out in the civilian world.
“Instead of doing the typical, couple little test that we do during the pre-op or the post-op care, we actually can refract patients, so we can do the prescription for the doctor so only five percent of the technicians in the Air Force actually get to do that, we’re one of the ones here,” De Nio said.
It’s all part of getting patients in and out as quickly as possible.
“It’s really convenient for them to just walk over, make an appointment, get seen the next day or within the day and get their glasses either rushed order depending on the situation or at least put that in the system ready to go,” Prieto-Ayala said.
De Nio said it’s especially important to make sure pilots have the necessary equipment to take flight.
“We actually had a problem before, if a pilot couldn’t get their frames fast enough, they actually can’t fly,” De Nio said.
De Nio said Sheppard Air Force Base pilots use to have to wait until their glasses got shipped to them, but that is no longer the case.
“We have a very good relationship with Fort Sill, so now any time our pilots go down, they actually drive up to Fort Sill, 45 minutes away, they pick those glasses up and they can turn around and fly the next day,” De Nio said.
They can do so with clear vision just like the thousands of others who are seen, all who can now focus on their missions up ahead.
If a military member needs surgery, there is also a place they can go to get that done all much quicker than if they were to be seen by a civilian optometrist.