Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

VCE examines low vision with detection and care

Image of military health personnel wearing a mask and performing an eye exam. Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Jordan Belthrop (right) administers an eye exam on Navy Hospitalman Caleb Newbill at the Naval Support Activity Souda Bay’s, Branch Health Clinic on the island of Crete, Greece in Aug. 2020. (U.S. Navy photo by Joel Diller)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Mobile Apps | Medical Research and Development | | Centers of Excellence | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention

“There are many types of low vision, ranging from small to life-changing issues,” explained Dr. David Eliason, associate chief of the Department of Defense/Department of Veterans Affairs’ Vision Center of Excellence.

With February designated as Low Vision Awareness Month, Eliason, the VCE and other eye specialists within the Defense Health Agency are focused on the variety of causes and cases of low vision within the military.

“People also become low vision for a variety of reasons,” said Eliason. “Because needs and treatments are as varied as the cases, the DOD is in the unique position of having the greatest variety of low vision patients compared with other medical systems.”

Causes of low vision range from hereditary to environmental factors, but what exactly is “low vision?”

“A broad definition of ‘low vision,’ in the past, may have been anyone with vision worse than a particular level. For example, they don’t see any better than 20/70 or 20/80 in both eyes,” said Eliason. “However, most low vision specialists prefer a practical approach to defining low vision as simply a loss of vision that has resulted in a decrease in desired visual function or ability for that person.”

This usually means a loss of visual function in both eyes, added Eliason.

“We tend to be able to perform fairly well if we lose vision in just one eye, but still have normal vision in the other eye,” Eliason said.

Low vision, said Eliason, disproportionately affects older populations.

“The impacts of low vision can be felt across the patient spectrum within the DOD, from active-duty service members to retirees and dependents,” said Eliason. “Naturally, though, the majority of low vision patients are dependents and retirees simply because the demographics of the active-duty population is going to put them within the healthiest groups of the general population. That’s also not factoring in the fact that they are remaining on active duty because they obviously don’t have a disability that is limiting their function.”

But the number of service members dealing with low vision is significant. Many times, individuals find themselves continuing to serve in some capacity, even as they are separating or retiring because of low vision.

“The process may be long enough that their vision loss requires attention prior to their separation,” Eliason said. “Even though they may be in the process of leaving the DOD, that doesn’t mean that things can be put off or not addressed until they separate.”

In other cases, he said, low vision may be just one of many combat-related injuries that a patient is dealing with.

Eliason said a plan should be in place for their post-separation eyecare, whether that be with the Department of Veterans Affairs or out in the community.

Military personnel wearing a mask performing an eye exam
Air Force Airman 1st Class Hannah Schaeffer (right) performs an eye exam on fellow 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron Medical Technician Air Force Airman 1st Class Alexis Workman at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station in Pennsylvania in Dec. 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Fritz)

“The VCE [Vision Center of Excellence] was designed to evaluate the continuum of care that a DOD patient would undergo with a significant eye injury, starting at prevention and going all the way through to detection, diagnosis, mitigation, and treatment of an eye injury and what results afterward, including vision rehabilitation,” Eliason said.

Part of the mission of the VCE is also to bridge the gap between active-duty and post active-duty vision care, specifically with the VA.

VCE connects the DOD and the VA because the DOD does not traditionally offer long-term rehabilitation.

“It’s understandable why,” Eliason said. The priority of the DOD is the readiness of its fighting force, and the medical force that supports that.”

Additionally, Eliason said, in cases where low vision may be caused by damage from hazards encountered as part of one’s job, safety and prevention are key.

“Prevention measures are command- and occupation-specific,” said Eliason. “But for cases that are based on hereditary factors, some cases aren’t preventable or predictable and may surface in younger service members unannounced. Our mission is to be looking at what factors lead to eye injuries, as well as short-term and long-term impacts of vision injuries and vision rehabilitation.”

With the VA taking on responsibilities for rehabilitation, it allows military medical treatment facilities to focus on more traditional aspects of vision care like routine care, testing, and surgeries.

“The VA has a large, nationwide, robust vision rehabilitation program, and a memorandum of understanding is in place that allows the VA to see active-duty personnel for vision rehabilitation,” said Eliason. “That gives the DOD a chance to focus on other aspects of vision care.”

As a one of several centers of excellence within of the Defense Health Agency, the VCE leads and advocates for programs and initiatives with the inter-related goals of improving vision health, optimizing readiness, and enhancing the quality of life for service members and veterans. VCE promotes collaboration, facilitates integration, and serves as an advocate for vision across the DOD and VA healthcare systems. VCE also collaborates with other federal health care organizations, academia, and private sector organizations.

You also may be interested in...

Ambulatory Visits, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018

Infographic
5/1/2019
Ambulatory Visits, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018

Ambulatory Visits, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018 This report documents the frequencies, rates, trends, and characteristics of ambulatory healthcare visits of active component members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps during 2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens

Infographic
5/1/2019
Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens

Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens Attributable To Various Illnesses and Injuries, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018 This annual summary uses a standard disease classification system (modified for use among U.S. military members) and several healthcare burden measures to quantify the impacts of various illnesses and injuries among members of the active component of the U.S. Armed Forces in 2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Exertional Rhabdomyolysis

Infographic
4/1/2019
Exertional Rhabdomyolysis

Each year, the MSMR summarizes the numbers, rates, trends, risk factors, and locations of occurrences of exertional heat injuries, including exertional rhabdomyolysis. This report includes the data for 2014–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Heat Illness

Infographic
4/1/2019
Heat Illness

This report summarizes reportable medical events of heat illness as well as heat illness-related hospitalizations and ambulatory visits among active component service members during 2018 and compares them to the previous 4 years. Episodes of heat stroke and heat exhaustion are summarized separately.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Lyme Disease

Infographic
4/1/2019
Lyme Disease

Each year, the MSMR summarizes the numbers, rates, trends, risk factors, and locations of occurrences of exertional heat injuries, including exertional rhabdomyolysis. This report includes the data for 2014–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Exertional Hyponatremia

Infographic
4/1/2019
Exertional Hyponatremia

Each year, the MSMR summarizes the numbers, rates, trends, risk factors, and locations of occurrences of exertional heat injuries, including exertional rhabdomyolysis. This report includes the data for 2014–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Infographic
3/20/2019
Sexually Transmitted Infections

This report summarizes incidence rates of the 5 most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among active component service members of the U.S. Armed Forces during 2010–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Male Infertility

Infographic
3/20/2019
Male Infertility

The current report updates and expands on the findings of the previous MSMR analysis of infertility among active component service men. Specifically, the current report summarizes the frequencies, rates, temporal trends, types of infertility, and demographic and military characteristics of infertility among active component service men during 2013–2017.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Infographic
3/20/2019
Testosterone Replacement Therapy

With the increasing number of testosterone deficiency diagnoses and potential health risks associated with initiation of TRT, it is important to understand the epidemiology of which U.S. service men are receiving TRT and whether these individuals have an indication for receiving treatment.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Vasectomy

Infographic
3/20/2019
Vasectomy

There are few published studies of vasectomy and vasectomy reversal among the U.S. military population. To address these gaps, the current analysis describes the overall and annual incidence rates of vasectomy among active component service men during 2000–2017 by demographic and military characteristics and by type of surgical vas isolation procedure used. In addition, the median age at incident vasectomy and the time between incident vasectomy and first vasectomy reversal are described.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Glaucoma

Infographic
3/1/2019
Glaucoma

This report describes an analysis using the Defense Medical Surveillance System to identify all active component service members with an incident diagnosis of glaucoma during the period between 2013 and 2017.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Adenovirus

Infographic
3/1/2019
Adenovirus

During August–September 2016, U.S. Naval Academy clinical staff noted an increase in students presenting with acute respiratory illness (ARI). An investigation was conducted to determine the extent and cause of the outbreak.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Malaria

Infographic
3/1/2019
Malaria

Since 1999, the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report has published regular updates on the incidence of malaria among U.S. service members. The MSMR’s focus on malaria reflects both historical lessons learned about this mosquito-borne disease and the continuing threat that it poses to military operations and service members’ health.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Infographic
1/29/2019
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

At the time of this report, there were no published studies of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) incidence over time among active component U.S. military personnel. Examining the incidence rates of NAFLD and their temporal trends among active component U.S. military members can provide insights into the future burden of NAFLD on the MHS.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Acute Flaccid Myelitis Case Reporting

Infographic
1/29/2019
Acute Flaccid Myelitis Case Reporting

This case highlights important clinical characteristics of acute flaccid myelitis and emphasizes the importance of including AFM in the differential diagnosis when evaluating active duty service members and Military Health System beneficiaries presenting with paralysis.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 31 - 45 Page 3 of 7
Refine your search
Last Updated: June 22, 2022

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.