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48th MDG optometry clinic aims to keep Airmen ‘fit to fight’

A patient looks through a diopter instrument at the 48th Medical Group optometry clinic, Jan. 17, 2018. The optometry clinic’s goal is to provide the best care they can to active duty members and their dependents. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Elizabeth Taranto)

A patient looks through a diopter instrument at the 48th Medical Group optometry clinic, Jan. 17, 2018. The optometry clinic’s goal is to provide the best care they can to active duty members and their dependents. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Elizabeth Taranto)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Editor’s Note: This article was written by a Lakenheath High School student working with the 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office as part of an internship program.

As his eye doctor fitted the new pair of glasses to his head, the lenses revealed a world he had never seen before.

He could finally witness a beautiful sunset and the contrasts within nature, revealing the detail of leaves in the trees, down to their veins. It inspired him to become the optometrist he is today.

Capt. Cody Peterson, an optometrist at the 48th Medical Group, is on a mission to provide those in his care with clear and complete vision.

The 48th MDG optometry clinic’s motto is “can’t see, can’t shoot” -- a necessity for the armed forces. But the ability to see correctly goes deeper than just the action of warfare. Inadequate vision affects the performance of simple daily tasks, whether driving, applying make-up, or lacing up boots.

“One of the coolest things I've done so far is fly on a CV-22 [Opsrey],” Peterson said. “Being able to witness how my job impacts other Air Force careers really helps you gain a greater appreciation for what you do.”

The optometry clinic’s goal is to provide the best care they can to active duty and their dependents, keeping Airmen “fit to fight” -- and fly. Pilots’ eyesight is essential for their careers and should receive careful attention, he said.

An area of concern for optometrists is the growing use of technology, he said. Children and adults can't keep their eyes off computers, television screens and phones. Peterson suggests applying the “20/20/20” rule: for every 20 minutes of computer work, give your eyes 20 seconds of rest by looking at something at least 20 feet away.

Using the 20/20/20 rule helps relax your eye muscles and reduce strain and fatigue, Peterson said, and suggested it’s not a bad idea to get maintain scheduled appointments with your eye doctor even if you feel like you have good vision.