IRT Hoosier Care employs innovative optical technology in Terre Haute

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Amber Anderson and 1st Lt. Jonathan Padish
  • 181st Intelligence Wing

Service members supporting Innovative Readiness Training mission IRT Hoosier Care employed cutting-edge optical technology to assist with optometry services during contingency vision clinic operations in Terre Haute June 7-14.

The comprehensive ultra-widefield retinal camera, which was provided by the manufacturer at no-cost to IRT Hoosier Care so optometrists and optometry technicians could better serve the community, allowed medical professionals to not only identify vision issues but also underlying medical conditions.

According to Air Force Lt. Col. Derek Melton, an optometrist with the 181st Intelligence Wing who has served on several IRT missions in the past, IRT Hoosier Care is the first time the technology has been utilized during an IRT mission.

The use of the technology has provided a positive impact on IRT Hoosier Care.

“The machine takes a phenomenal picture of the eye [so] I can get a good look at the basic structures and make sure everything is healthy,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Luann Danes, an optometrist from Vance Air Force Base, Okla.

Moreover, since one goal of IRT Hoosier Care is to maximize benefits to the community, the technology meets a more basic requirement: efficiency.

“[The machine] speeds up the whole process because [it negates the need for] dilation,” said Danes. “Dilation takes 20 to 40 minutes depending on the patient. That's one or two more patients I could see and give a pair of eyeglasses to improve their quality of life. That, of course, is better for the community.”

Indeed, the increased efficiency has paid off for IRT Hoosier Care, which has performed several hundred optical exams over the course of the mission.

Thanks to the use of innovative elements like new technologies, IRT Hoosier Care has been able to better serve the community and provide real-world training opportunities on those technologies to service members.

Led by the 181st Intelligence Wing, IRT Hoosier Care is a training mission that has provided real-world, contingency training for military personnel and no-cost healthcare to the local community.