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Whether on the battlefield or in the examination room, Dr. Edward Sonak takes care of the eyes of the Soldier.

Sonak, who has joined the staff at Fox Army Health Center, was a Soldier himself, first an air defense artillery officer, and after obtaining his Doctor of Optometry from the University of Houston, an optometrist. Now retired from active duty, Sonak is still serving his fellow retirees and service members as Fox’s new optometrist.

Sonak always knew he wanted to work in the healthcare field but after joining the ROTC program at Michigan State University, his medical plans met a desire to service his country. That desire would see him deployed to Iraq in 2006 as part of the 15th Sustainment Brigade 1st Cavalry Division, where he was responsible for repairing and replacing Soldiers’ glasses on the field using a mobile lab –often producing essential eyewear within an hour. Soldiers need a clear view to complete their mission. Sonak’s skills could quickly become critical.

“Field conditions, the sand, the dirt can contribute to infection or injury – that takes the person out of the fight … and could compromise the mission,” he said.

Now at Fox, his patient load looks a little different with the low number of active duty and the high number of retirees, but Sonak brings the same motivation to their care. Previously, the center had on staff two part-time optometrists with limited hours but Sonak’s arrival means an expansion of available hours and appointment times.

Sonak’s primary mission at Fox is ocular health and he encourages patients to treat their vision just like every other medical checkup. Oftentimes, a person might not know that there is something wrong but a checkup every one to two years can catch a potential medical problem early, Sonak said.

“Don’t wait until there is a change in your vision to make an appointment.”

Sonak’s sees patients from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. To make an appointment, patients can visit the Tricare website at tricareonline.com or call central appointments 955-8888.

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