Warfighters have vision improved at 779th MDG’s Eye Center

Dr. Williams Gensheimer (standing), 779th Medical Group’s Warfighter Eye Center chief, conducts a briefing for patients scheduled to undergo corneal refractive surgery May 15, 2017 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. Gensheiemer, one of the Center’s ophthalmologists, dsicussed the risks about eye surgery, how he will conduct the procedure step-by-step and what the patients can expect after the CRS is complete. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joe Yanik)

Dr. Williams Gensheimer (standing), 779th Medical Group’s Warfighter Eye Center chief, conducts a briefing for patients scheduled to undergo corneal refractive surgery May 15, 2017 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. Gensheiemer, one of the Center’s ophthalmologists, dsicussed the risks about eye surgery, how he will conduct the procedure step-by-step and what the patients can expect after the CRS is complete. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joe Yanik)

Renee Coapland (left), 779th Medical Group’s Warfighter Eye Center refractive technician, places numbing drops into the eyes of Navy Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Matthew Drager, Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic Pax River, before he undergoes the laser eye procedure known as Photorefractive Keratectomy, or PRK, May 17, 2017 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. PRK is a type of refractive surgery to correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joe Yanik)

Renee Coapland (left), 779th Medical Group’s Warfighter Eye Center refractive technician, places numbing drops into the eyes of Navy Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Matthew Drager, Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic Pax River, before he undergoes the laser eye procedure known as Photorefractive Keratectomy, or PRK, May 17, 2017 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. PRK is a type of refractive surgery to correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joe Yanik)

Maj. Williams Gensheimer (left), 779th Medical Group’s Warfighter Eye Center chief, inspects the corneas of Staff Sgt. John Scacca, 633rd Medical Group, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., before performing corneal refractive surgery May 17, 2017 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. PRK, LASIK and other types of laser eye surgery involve using an excimer laser to re-shape the cornea, which allows for light to enter the eye that is properly focused onto the retina for improved vision. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joe Yanik)

Maj. Williams Gensheimer (left), 779th Medical Group’s Warfighter Eye Center chief, inspects the corneas of Staff Sgt. John Scacca, 633rd Medical Group, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., before performing corneal refractive surgery May 17, 2017 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. PRK, LASIK and other types of laser eye surgery involve using an excimer laser to re-shape the cornea, which allows for light to enter the eye that is properly focused onto the retina for improved vision. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joe Yanik)

A refractive technician (foreground) assists Maj. Williams Gensheimer (sitting), 779th Medical Group’s Warfighter Eye Center chief, as he performs corneal refractive surgery on Navy Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Matthew Drager, Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic Pax River, May 17, 2017 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. The Warfighter Eye Center sees approximately 35 patients from across the NCR per week and its 3 ophthalmologists conduct around 1,600 CRS surgeries per year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joe Yanik)

A refractive technician (foreground) assists Maj. Williams Gensheimer (sitting), 779th Medical Group’s Warfighter Eye Center chief, as he performs corneal refractive surgery on Navy Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Matthew Drager, Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic Pax River, May 17, 2017 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. The Warfighter Eye Center sees approximately 35 patients from across the NCR per week and its 3 ophthalmologists conduct around 1,600 CRS surgeries per year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joe Yanik)

Staff Sgt. John Scacca, 633rd Medical Group, Joint Base Langley-Eustis (lying down), waits as Dr. Williams Gensheimer (sitting), 779th Medical Group’s Warfighter Eye Center chief, and his staff of refractive technicians verify patient data before beginning corneal refractive surgery May 17, 2017 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. JBA’s Warfighter Eye Center is one of only six of the Air Force’s corneal refractive surgery centers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joe Yanik)

Staff Sgt. John Scacca, 633rd Medical Group, Joint Base Langley-Eustis (lying down), waits as Dr. Williams Gensheimer (sitting), 779th Medical Group’s Warfighter Eye Center chief, and his staff of refractive technicians verify patient data before beginning corneal refractive surgery May 17, 2017 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. JBA’s Warfighter Eye Center is one of only six of the Air Force’s corneal refractive surgery centers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joe Yanik)

Dr. William Gensheimer (left), 779th Medical Group’s Warfighter Eye Center chief, places a lid speculum over one of a patient’s eyes May 17, 2017 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. It serves to force the patient’s eyelids to remain open while the laser re-shapes the cornea. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joe Yanik)

Dr. William Gensheimer (left), 779th Medical Group’s Warfighter Eye Center chief, places a lid speculum over one of a patient’s eyes May 17, 2017 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. It serves to force the patient’s eyelids to remain open while the laser re-shapes the cornea. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joe Yanik)

Lindsey Baker watches a monitor showing in real time the eye of her husband of Marine Lance Cpl. Alexander Baker, Marine Barracks Washington, May 17, 2017 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. Alexander underwent LASIK surgery, a procedure that is available to active duty members or Reserve members on active duty orders who are at least six months away from the date of separation or retirement  (U.S. Air Force photo by Joe Yanik)

Lindsey Baker watches a monitor showing in real time the eye of her husband of Marine Lance Cpl. Alexander Baker, Marine Barracks Washington, May 17, 2017 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. Alexander underwent LASIK surgery, a procedure that is available to active duty members or Reserve members on active duty orders who are at least six months away from the date of separation or retirement (U.S. Air Force photo by Joe Yanik)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --

(This story is the fifth of 10 stories about the more than 1,500 Air Force health care professionals who make up the 79th Medical Wing and the vast expertise they bring to executing the organization's mission of providing medical services for expeditionary deployment and defense operations in the National Capital Region and around the world.)

As part of one of the Air Force’s three medical wings, the 79th Medical Wing’s Airmen work across the National Capital Region to ensure that America’s warfighters receive superior medical care they can trust to keep in them in the fight.

 

The ophthalmology team at the wing’s 779th Medical Group’s Warfighter Eye Center located at Joint Base Andrews, Md., performs state-of-the-art corrective laser eye surgery on Airmen warfighters so they can focus on doing their jobs on land, in the air, space and cyberspace.

 

“Many of the patients I’ve treated while on deployments have experienced eye infections; many of them bring glasses that can break easily,” said Lt. Col. Chantal Cousineau Krieger, 779th Medical Group’s Surgical Sub-Specialties flight commander.  “The laser eye surgeries we perform at the Eye Center enhance the Air Force’s human weapon component because it reduces or eliminates the need for lenses and glasses.”

 

From its clinic located at JBA’s Malcolm Grow Medical Clinics and Surgery Center, the Warfighter Eye Center offers eligible candidates two types of Corneal Refractive Surgery (CRS) procedures: Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) and Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK). Laser eye surgery improves vision by re-shaping the cornea to eliminate refractive error that causes distorted vision.

 

As one of only six of the Air Force’s corneal refractive surgery centers, the Warfighter Eye Center sees approximately 35 patients from across the NCR per week and 1,600 CRS surgeries per year.

 

“We carefully gather data and track our patients’ progress after surgery,” said Cousineau-Krieger. “We find that 94% of them experience outcomes of 20/20 or better and 99% are 20/40 or better, which is legal to drive without glasses.”

 

Both LASIK and PRK are available to Air Force active duty members or Reserve members on active duty orders with at least six months from the date of separation or retirement. The center treats members of other military services as well, including Coast Guardsmen and Public Health Service members.

 

“In my career field, having better vision directly impacts my safety while I work around ordnance and on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier,” said Navy Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Matthew Drager, Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic Pax River.

 

With the vast majority of patients achieving 20/20, Cousineau-Krieger said she has great confidence in the procedure and recommends it for any eligible military member with less than perfect vision.  

 

“I am personally a very firm believer in the program,” she said.  “In 2008 I couldn’t see farther than a handspan from my face without glasses; I had PRK and consider it one of the best things I have ever done for myself.”

 

Learn more about eligibility and application requirements for CRS here.