Navy Ophthalmic Command Offers New Eyeglass Frames

Story Number: NNS061108-09Release Date: 11/8/2006 5:23:00 PM
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By Larry Coffey, Navy Medicine Support Command Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- The Naval Ophthalmic Support and Training Command (NOSTRA) introduced its latest "Frames of Choice" program, offering an additional six new choices for active-duty Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard personnel Nov. 1.

"Frames of choice are civilian-style frames offered to active-duty military members," said Cmdr. Matthew E. Newton, NOSTRA executive officer.

The new frames will be rolled out incrementally with availability depending on the service member's location. Military retirees, regardless of rank, are not eligible for the new frames under this program.

NOSTRA, located at the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station in Virginia, is one of 24 labs in the Optical Fabrication Enterprise (OFE) that fabricate eyewear for all eligible personnel. The OFE also includes eight Army fabrication labs. As DOD's "tertiary" fabrication site, NOSTRA has the people and equipment needed to fabricate the most complex prescriptions filled in the military. And, NOSTRA is the training site for Navy and Army personnel training to become laboratory and clinical opticians through the Tri-Service Optician School.

The frames of choice program is not new to the Navy. The original program began in 1996 and also offered six styles. Two of the original six styles will still be available under the roll out, expanding the total to eight.

Before 1996, there were no choices in Navy eyeglasses, Newton explained. Active-duty personnel choices were to wear the boot camp issued pair or pay out of pocket for eye glasses purchased at civilian shops. Operationally required eyeglasses were available for personnel serving in some operational positions, such as aboard submarines or in a flight-crew status, and remain available.

The frames of choice program began in part when advertisements in the early 1990s poked fun of service members wearing the standard military issue frames, known affectionately as "BCGs," or Birth Control Glasses.

"It became a quality-of-life issue," Newton said. "The advertisements made that very clear. After this, the Department of the Navy medical department started the process of developing a program to begin offering choice of frames to active-duty personnel."

Newton said active-duty service members who have not been issued a frame of choice during the past year from a military fabrication lab are eligible to order new frames of choice eyeglasses, even though they may be wearing military-issued eye glasses or glasses that were purchased from a civilian store. All that is required is a current eye exam that is less than two years old.

"Current guidelines are that personnel can have one frame of choice per year," Newton said. "If during that year they damage or lose their eyeglasses, they can request another pair. If their eyesight changes to the point they need a new prescription, they can also get an additional frame of choice. And, we do not require they send in the old frames."

Active-duty personnel or Reservists/Guardsmen serving on active duty more than 30 days may get frames of their choice by visiting their local optometry clinic or ordering on line at the Naval Ophthalmic Support and Training Activity Web site, A new Web site will be up by Nov. 30, An order form (DD771) and instructions on how to complete the form are at the Web sites.

For related news, visit the Navy Medicine Support Command Navy NewsStand page at

A patients view of Air Force Capt. Jennifer Owen, a native of Birmingham, Ala., helping try on a pair of reading glasses in the optometry clinic at the Mamburungan outreach site, located on the island of Tarakan.
Official U.S. Navy file photo.
August 15, 2006
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