Bethesda Naval Hospital, MD

NNMC Bethesda
Bldg. 8 /Optometry Clinic
8901 Wisconsin Ave
Bethesda, MD 20889
Bethesda Naval Medical Hospital

Phone (Clinic): (301) 295-1339
Fax: (301) 295-6497

Externship Supervisor
Geeta Girdher, OD, FAAO

Additional Faculty
Stanley Freed, OD
Geeta Girdher, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Jin Ha, OD
David Meltzer, OD
James Frank Saviola, OD
Aaron Tarbett, OD

Program Description
The National Naval Medical Center will be the flagship of Force Health Protection, graduate medical education, and world-class healthcare.

The primary mission of the department is to correct vision problems of active-duty personnel in the Washington D.C. area so that they are visually ready to perform their duties.  Secondary missions include correcting the vision problems of other area beneficiaries and providing clinical training for optometry students.

As the Flagship of Navy Medicine

  • We maximize our operational readiness and keep the Uniformed Services mission-ready.

  • We provide quality primary care and specialty services in a caring, patient-centered environment.

  • We deliver outstanding, customer-focused services.

  • We provide distinguished graduate and undergraduate medical education and ensure professional development for all staff members.

  • We develop and export innovations in healthcare, informatics and research.

  • We provide outstanding base operating support to tenant commands co-located on the NNMC compound.

  • We care for the Nation's leaders.

  • We are the President's Hospital.

  • The Eye Clinic is composed of the Departments of Optometry and Ophthalmology.



Equipment Required

Yes (see below)

Equipment needed The eye lanes are fully equipped with the equipment you will need to examine patients.  Students can bring their own diagnostic lenses but it is not necessary and it is their responsibility to keep it safe. They should bring their own lab jackets and name badges.

Student parking

Dress Code
You will be required to conform to the dress code prescribed by your school.  Dress as a medical professional, in neatly pressed, conservative attire.  Observe grooming standards expected of a medical professional.  Jewelry should be conservative; gentlemen are not permitted to wear earrings.  Clinic jackets and name -tags are required.  Failure to adhere to the dress code will not be tolerated.  Repeated violations of the dress code will result in a report to your school’s externship coordinator and may result in termination of your rotation.

Additional Requirements
Bring with you -copies of your immunizations, namely the hepatitis B series, MMR, the ppd information/results, copy of your BLS card, and health exam.
Students should also bring a letter of good standing from their school.

Optometry Department Services

Comprehensive eye examinations

Contact lens fitting for those with a medical indication for contact lens wear (keratoconus, aphakia, anisometropia, etc.) and for patients with a job-related need for contact lenses (aviators, submariners, SEAL team members, and Navy divers).  Prescription renewal is provided for patients wearing contact lenses for cosmesis, provided that their lenses fit properly and the current prescription is known.  Tricare, the Department of Defense healthcare benefit, does not provide for contact lens fitting services for cosmesis; such contact lens fitting is therefore quite limited.

Low vision services.  The demand for low vision services varies; generally 1 to 2 low vision appointments are scheduled per month.

Vision testing and eye examinations for physical examinations.

Spectacle dispensing services are available from 8:00am-4:00pm.  Patients are usually sent to the dispensary to order their eyewear after dilating eye drops have been instilled.    A small spectacle fabrication facility is located elsewhere on the base, and can make eyewear in all frame types.  The spectacle laboratory has lenses ranging from +3.00 to –8.00 sphere power, with up to 2D of cylinder.  CR-39 is the only material available from this laboratory.  Orders outside of this power range, multifocal orders, and orders for materials other than CR-39 are sent to a Navy laboratory in Yorktown, VA.    Additionally, any special coating such as UV will also need to be sent to NOSTRA.  The turn-around time for glasses is 1 week for any stock lenses (i.e., single-vision glasses in stock powers) and 3 weeks for anything we have to send to NOSTRA (e.g., bifocal orders).  Some general points to know about materials are: Hi-Index lenses can only be ordered in prescriptions that exceed 6.00D in any meridian, gas mask inserts are only available in CR-39, and military issued half eyes can only be ordered in plus powers.  Patients can either pick their glasses up at the dispensary or they can have them mailed to their home of record.  The opticians in the dispensary can adjust and repair glasses as well. However, we do not generally make adjustments and or repairs to civilian frames due to reasons concerning liability.  For more information concerning glasses, frames, and materials see the section entitled, “Vision Benefits Covered by Tricare.”

Ophthalmology services include the following:

  • General ophthalmology

  • Laser-vision correction

  • Cataract surgery

  • Minor procedures

  • Diabetic screening clinic

  • Comprehensive screening clinic

  • Retina service

  • Pediatric service

  • Cornea service

  • Oculoplastic service

  • Glaucoma service 

Patient Population
Our patient population consists of active duty and retired members from all branches of the Uniformed Services (Armed Forces and Public Health Service) and their dependents.  We also provide care to members of the executive branch of the federal government including the president of the United States and members of his Cabinet, and serve members of Congress as well.

Externs at the NNMC see an average of 375 patients during their rotation.  You may wish to view a summary of patient encounters of one of our former externs.

Hours of operation, inclement weather, absences and tardiness

The Eye Clinic opens at 6:45am and closes at 4:30pm.  The first appointment is scheduled for 7:00am.  Students are expected to be ready to see patients by 7:15am.  Students are dismissed by their preceptor after the last patient leaves the clinic, this is typically between 4:30 and 5:00pm.

  • informity