While veterans generally report better health overall than their civilian counterparts, they are more likely to have heart disease and diabetes, two chronic conditions eye doctors often detect signs of before primary care providers.
More than 1 million veterans have been diagnosed with low vision, including 160,000 who are legally blind. In addition, many veterans have experienced eye injuries, and those from more recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are more likely to have vision loss as a result of traumatic brain injuries. One person who knows these statistics all too well is Dr. David Bradley.
Having served his country as a Doctor of Optometry in the U.S. Army and then the U.S. Air Force reserves, Dr. Bradley was at the forefront of delivering eye care for other service members. As a veteran and VSP network eye doctor, he continues his commitment to providing access for his peers.
For the last 10 years, Dr. Bradley has volunteered to provide eye exams at the Yuba Sutter Veterans Stand Down in Marysville, California. Since 2014, he’s partnered with VSP Global Eyes of Hope to provide more than 300 people in need with access to no-cost eye exams and eyewear, if prescribed.
“I am seeing, with this particular population, a lot of people my age or older, and therefore people who need glasses,” said Dr. Bradley, who volunteered alongside Kathleen Ngo, OD, another VSP network eye doctor. “In several people, we have identified a few issues in the eyes that can impact the rest of the body as well. We are able to make sure they know about their health benefits so that they can be referred to their Veterans Affairs doctor.”
Clear vision can make all the difference in job interviews, safe driving, school, or even being able to enjoy a simple text message from a loved one. The impacts are far-reaching. Ruth, a veteran in attendance told us, “I haven’t been able to see my computer, so I’m glad to be able to try out some new glasses.” Others told us that it was the first time anyone had told them that they have an astigmatism.
VSP employees who served in the military or have family members who serve were also on hand to assist through VSP’s Military and Veterans Business Resource Group, designed to help foster a sense of community and support the business in meeting the unique eyecare needs of veterans, active service members and their families.
Geno, a member of VSP’s Customer Care division, served in the Army for six years; his dad and brother are also veterans. “I like giving back and I know what it means to be a veteran,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to serve on a mobile clinic for some time, and this was the perfect opportunity for me.”
VSP would like to thank Dr. Bradley and Dr. Ngo for their commitment to their community and all the VSP network eye doctors and employees who volunteer to help make a difference in the lives of others. For more about Eyes of Hope, visit www.globaleyesofhope.com.