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Your eyes are in good hands

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Anthony Jennings
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
"You may or may not need glasses, but are your eyes healthy," asked Maj. Carl Cembrano, 36th Medical Operations Squadron optometrist.

Putting a sensitive and important body part such as one's eyes in the hands of a stranger isn't easy for many people. Having seen close to 60,000 eyes over the course of his 12-year career, Major Cembrano, along with his staff of trained eye-care technicians, use their experience to provide Team Andersen with clear vision.

The clinic performs full-scope primary eye care for all active duty members, their dependents and retirees. The process includes prescribing glasses as well as screening and treating ocular disease and injuries.

"It really starts with the technicians," said Major Cembrano. "As they explain what each test is for, the patient begins to trust them and feel more comfortable. By the time they get to me they have already lost any anxiety they may have had coming into our clinic."

Peering into the metaphorical "window of the soul," Major Cembrano searches for diseases the patients may not even know they have, such as glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a degeneration of the optic nerve which connects the eye to the brain. As the nerve deteriorates, one may start to lose vision from their periphery inward.

"Some doctors in this career field like to call it the 'insidious eye disease,' because it is sinister in nature, but subtle in its symptoms," said Major Cembrano. "That is why it is so important to come in and be seen because the degradation of one's vision can be so slow you wouldn't even realize it's happening until it's too late."

Aside from routine exams, other common cases patients are seen for are preventable. Such as improper use of contacts, not wearing eye-protection while participating in sports or hobbies, and not wearing sunglasses to prevent ultra-violet radiation damage, which can lead to diseases like solar keratosis, or cataracts.

Helping the base populace maintain clear vision is Tech. Sgt. Rayno Boivin, 36 MDOS ophthalmic technician, Tech Sgt. Josh Karash, 36 MDOS optometry clinic NCO in charge, and Staff Sgt. Marvin Gutierrez, 36 MDOS ophthalmic technician.

The technicians use tools such as visual field analyzers, non-contact tenometers, retina cameras and corneal topographers to identify the dimensions of the patient's eye and determine a prescription if needed.

"Your eyes are vital to accomplishing the mission, whether you're sitting at a desk or out there in the field. You need clear vision," said Sergeant Boivin. "Our career-field motto is 'if you can't see them, you can't shoot them.'"

Though restoration of one's vision and allowing them to see with clarity could be viewed by his patients as nothing less than miraculous, the major explains that it is all about the mission.

"Just knowing they can go out and accomplish the mission with clear vision keeps me going," Major Cembrano said.