Gunfighter Optometry: The Vision Mission

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Hailey Bivens
  • 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Gazing down the sights of a weapon, choosing the correct size tool, adjusting information on government systems; these are all things Airmen in different career fields do every day that require vision.

The 366th Aerospace Medical Squadron optometry clinic provides Airmen quality care all year to ensure they can see and accomplish the Air Force mission.

“In the Air Force we are specifically given a charge to make sure Airmen are ready to deploy at a moments notice,” said Capt. Craig Jensen, 366th Aerospace Medical Squadron optometry flight commander. “Everything that goes on in the eyes is connected to the rest of the body. They can affect anything from mental health to a patient’s physical well-being.”

Jensen explained that eyes are complex, and in order to achieve mission success, they have to be operating at an above average level.

Optometry professionals here perform basic check ups as well as further care to ensure pilots can complete their flying missions.

“Flyers in particular go through more stresses than the typical person on the ground and we are a critical part of their success,” Jensen said. “They're using nighttime vision and targeting systems; they need their eyes. We are working on technology that’s helping to enhance their ability to be lethal.”

Optometry’s reach spreads across the wing to more than just the fighter squadrons. Jensen provides professional advice to the 366th Security Forces Squadron on field sobriety tests, improving their ability to perform their duties accurately and efficiently.

“Many field sobriety tests have a lot to do with eyes,” Jensen said. “We can determine just by looking at their eyes if they’re possibly under the influence of drugs and what drug that may be based on a couple of clues.”

Optometry is often pushed to the limit with scheduling mission essential personnel first and foremost in times of need.

In the past, they have preformed exams on upwards of 300 Gunfighters over the course of a month to make sure they were able to get back out in the field and continue to perform their duties in the best state of health.

“Seeing over 300 people in addition to a normal schedule of patients is uncommon outside of the military world,” said Staff Sgt. Sean Cuevas, 366th Aerospace Medical Squadron ophthalmic technician. “Airmen are more than just a number; they have their own jobs that require a specific mission. We help them achieve that mission by testing the health of their eyesight in a moment’s notice.”