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Data Registry Helps Improve Research and Treatment for Eye Injuries

Image of Pvt. Second Class Jagger Dixon, treats an eye injury during Expert Infantryman Badge testing, June 15, 2021, at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Dixon is a soldier with B Company; 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. Soldiers must successfully execute a variety of warrior tasks to earn their EIB. (Photo: Army Spc. Kay Edwards, 27th Public Affairs Detachment). Pvt. Second Class Jagger Dixon, treats an eye injury during Expert Infantryman Badge testing, June 15, 2021, at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Dixon is a soldier with B Company; 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. Soldiers must successfully execute a variety of warrior tasks to earn their EIB. (Photo: Army Spc. Kay Edwards, 27th Public Affairs Detachment)

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The Defense Health Agency is expanding its capability for researching and treating eye injuries and vision problems to improve care for service members and veterans.

Recent enhancements to the Defense and Veterans Eye Injury and Vision Registry, known as DVEIVR, are giving doctors and researchers new insights into ocular injuries and outcomes across the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

"DVEIVR transforms data into useful information and, ultimately, practical knowledge that can be applied at the user level for tangible clinical impacts," said Army Colonel Scott McClellan, Defense Health Agency Vision Center of Excellence branch chief in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The registry is a managed clinical health tool overseen by VCE to provide the DOD/VA vision care community and, with appropriate agreements in place, academic eye care professionals with unique clinical ocular and vision-related data.

New Value

Established in 2011 by congressional mandate, newly added components in the registry offer helpful context and supplemental information for doctors and researchers.

"The value of DVEIVR in practice is related to the source of the data, which are medical records," said Dr. David Eliason, deputy chief for the VCE and a practicing ophthalmologist. "It's not just how the eye injury is coded [medically] but it has the doctor's note itself, so it's clinically relevant in that way."

Long-term research may be especially valuable. As the U.S. military conducts fewer combat operations overseas, there are fewer combat injuries, but the VA continues to provide follow-on care for veterans injured years ago, Eliason said.

"I'm very much interested in the long-term disposition of these patients, 10 to 12 years post-injury. The registry data help us to determine who is going to the VA and who doesn't know about VA programs for eye injury follow-on care."

Air Force Staff Sgt. Dalton Aric, 31st Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, has a fluorescein strip touch his eye during an eye exam at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Dec. 2, 2021. Fluorescein is used to assist in the detection of debris and corneal abrasions. (Photo: Senior Airman Brooke Moede, 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs)
Air Force Staff Sgt. Dalton Aric, 31st Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, has a fluorescein strip touch his eye during an eye exam at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Dec. 2, 2021. Fluorescein is used to assist in the detection of debris and corneal abrasions. (Photo: Senior Airman Brooke Moede, 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

Detailed Data

DVEIVR tracks, on average, about 7,000 significant eye injuries per year involving active duty service members, whether the injury is combat-related, occupational, or accidental, said Patty Morris, VCE lead for Technology and Acquisition.

The data collected include service, occupation, command, and region of operation. "We are the only registry that collects data at such a granular level," Morris said.

"The management of eye injuries is complex. DVEIVR enables VCE to develop initiatives to improve visual readiness, enhance treatments and outcomes, focus research initiatives, establish guidelines for clinical care, and more effectively evaluate DOD and VA health care processes," McClellan said.

"The VCE is the champion for initiatives, requirements, and policies related to vision/ocular health and readiness for the MHS. DVEIVR is the VCE's key component to support educational and research initiatives within the DOD and VA eye care communities," McClellan said.

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