Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Washington, D.C.

Bldg. 8 /Optometry Clinic
8901 Wisconsin Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20889
Phone: (301) 319-7001
Fax: (301) 295-6497

CDO’s Desk: (301) 295-4611
Public Safety (Base Police):  (301) 295-7867
Fire/Emergency/Hazard Spills: 777
Cardiac Arrest: 666

Externship Supervisor
Geeta Girdher, OD, FAAO

Additional Faculty
Aaron Tarbett, OD
David Metlzer, OD
Jin Ha, OD
Stanley Freed OD
James Frank Saviola, OD

Program Description
Both military scholarship students and non-military students have participated in our clinical program.  Our program is an excellent opportunity for second, third, and fourth-year students.  We have created a warm-friendly environment that is conducive for learning and allows you to gain experience and insight into your optometric profession.  Student doctors will be directly involved in the diagnosis and treatment of patients at a level consistent with their optometric education.

The optometry clinic resides within a tertiary care facility and carries the responsibility of full competence in every aspect of optometry.  Ocular manifestations of systemic disease management, treatment of pathological anomalies, medically necessary contact lens fitting, low vision care and general optometric and refractive care are everyday tasks here at Walter Reed.  Summer externships should apply early.

Additional Program Information
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center will be the Flagship of Force Health Protection, Graduate Medical Education, and World-Class Health Care.

Optometry Mission Statement
The primary mission of the department is to correct vision problems of active duty personnel in the Washington DC 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.

Optometry Vision Statement
The Optometry Department will be the preferred provider of primary eyecare services for beneficiaries in the Washington DC area.


Not provided (see below)

Equipment Required

Students can bring their own diagnostic lenses but it is not necessary and it is their responsibility to keep it safe. Lab jackets and name badges are required.

External Rotations


There are few low-cost, short-term rentals in the D.C. area.  Students are encouraged to find housing with family and friends for the duration of the externship.

Due to the recent integration and formation of the new WRNMMC, parking is not allowed for students due to limited space availability.  Students are encouraged to choose housing easily accessible to public transportation.  There are several bus stops and a metro stop directly in front of the hospital.

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

  • A security back ground check is required and the necessary paperwork will be mailed to the student 8-10 weeks prior to the start of the rotation. 
  • Students must be a US citizen (no dual citizenship allowed).
  • 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.
  • Student should also bring a letter of good standing from their school.

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 WRNMMC see an average of 375 patients during their rotation.

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 1-2 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 one 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.”

Ophthamology Services

  • 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

Site Hours
The Eye Clinic opens at 6:45am and closes at 5:30pm.  The first appointment is scheduled for 7:00am.  Students are expected to be ready to see patients by 7:00am.  Currently, students are working four 10 hour work days (with one day off per week), but this may be subjective to change.  Students are dismissed by their preceptor after the last patient leaves the clinic, this is typically around 5:30pm.

Directions to Clinic

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