Southern Arizona VA Health Care System Eye Clinic (Tucson VAMC Campus), Tucson, AZ

3601 South 6th Avenue (2-112a)
Tucson, AZ  85723

Phone: (520) 792-1450 x6551
Fax: (520) 838-3656
VAMC Tucson
Tucson, AZ

Externship Supervisor
Alyon Wasik, OD, Extern Director, Staff Optometrist

Additional Faculty
Amy Grimes, OD, Clinical Director, Optometry
Timothy Messer, OD, Chief, Optometry Section Southwest Blind Rehabilitation Center
Gregory Wolfe, OD, MPH, Residency Coordinator, Staff Optometrist
Carla Engelke, OD, Staff Optometrist
Huey-Fen Song, OD, Part time Staff Optometrist

Program Description
In December 2003, the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System opened a new eye clinic in the 50,000 square foot Ambulatory Care Building. The eye clinic has 13 newly equipped exam rooms, three visual field rooms, fundus photography room, auxiliary digital imaging room, laser room, pretest room, and conference room.  Other new equipment includes an OCT Stratus, Cirrus and Visante, 2 digital fundus cameras, digital slit lamp camera, 3 Humphrey visual field analyzers, Goldmann Perimeter, specular microscope, corneal topographer, ultrasound (A/B Scan and IOL Master), and pachymeter, computer and flat screen monitor in all exam rooms. Eye Clinic staff includes 4 full-time and 1 part-time optometrists, 4 optometry residents, 5 optometry externs,  one full-time and 6 part-time ophthalmologists, 11 ophthalmology residents, 3 ophthalmic technicians, and 3 clerks.

Under the direction of the attending optometrist, externs will have the opportunity to provide comprehensive eye care with access to the computerized medical record system including the ability to order interdisciplinary consultations, medications, lab work, and imaging studies (CT, MRI, and Ultrasonography).  There is an excellent working relationship with ophthalmology and opportunities are available to consult with specialists in retina, cornea, and oculoplastics.  There may also be limited opportunities to observe in the Low Vision Clinic in the Blind Rehabilitation Center.

Additional Information

  • At least 9 scheduled patients per day Monday thru Friday excluding one-half day for  didactic activity
  • Online medical reference databases, including Medline, access at each CBOC in each exam room
  • Can contact librarians for articles at Tucson VA medical library


Not provided

Equipment Required

You may want to bring your own handheld instruments

External Rotations


Housing is not provided.  Numerous apartment complexes near by clinics.

Extern Responsibilities
Externs are scheduled 40 patient visits per week with one half day a week devoted to educational activities.


Additional Requirements

  • Complete required VA forms prior to starting rotation
  • Automobile required for transportation

General Objectives

  • Increase ability to perform advanced procedures such as gonioscopy, scleral depression, peripheral 90D exam
  • Integrate key concepts from didactic courses into clinical setting
  • Increase decision making and management ability

Faculty Objectives

  • Provide feedback
  • Identify strengths and weakness & suggestions for improvement
  • Conduct didactic activities
  • Provide formal evaluation in the middle and at the end of rotation

Patient Population
Predominantly a geriatric population with common ocular problems of glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, anterior segment disease, cataracts, peripheral retinopathies, etc.

  • Mostly middle aged to elderly  males
  • Majority of patients are Caucasian
  • Minority representation of Hispanic, African American, Asian, and Native American
  • Socioeconomic status variable
  • Patients typically have multiple medical problems; there are frequent ocular diagnoses of cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, age related maculopathy

Patient Services

  • Primary care
  • Gatekeeper for all eye related consultations including walk-in and urgent care cases such as red eyes, sudden loss of vision, foreign bodies, ocular pain
  • Anterior Segment
  • Plethora of clinical conditions including infections, inflammations, degenerations, dystrophies
  • Wide variety of topical and some oral medications can be prescribed
  • Glaucoma Diagnosis & Treatment
  • Optometry manages all non-surgical glaucoma patients
  • Wide array of therapeutics available
  • Posterior Segment
  • Diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, peripheral retinal abnormalities, retinal vascular diseases

Clinic Hours
7:30 to 4:00 Monday thru Friday
Closed Weekends

Health Requirements
Current on vaccinations; CPR certification required

Directions to Clinic
By Car: take the Palisades Interstate parkway north until it ends at the Bear Mountain Bridge traffic circle.  Proceed 3/4 of the way around the circle, following signs for West Point.  You are now on Route 9W North.  Stay on Route 9W for approximately 3 miles then exit onto Route 218 North.  As you enter the village of Highland Falls (travel approximately 2 miles) on Route 218, continue to bear right, which will bring you to the Thayer Gate of West Point.  At the gate, ask the guard for directions to Building 606, the Cadet Health Clinic.  The Optometry Clinic is located on Floor 3M in Building 606.  West Point is located about 55 miles from Manhattan.

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