FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Any active-duty, permanent party service member at Fort Sam Houston - for a limited time - can get a free pair of eyeglasses as part of a program that will determine what kind of eyeglasses get offered by the Department of Defense for the next decade.

"We can only offer this to 1,000 people here," said Lt. Col. Jeff Cleland, chief of the optometry clinics at Brooke Army Medical Center and the McWethy Troop Clinic.

"We're going to have about 120 different frames available, in all different colors and in plastic and metal. Which frames get picked will help determine what DoD optometry clinics will be offering for the next 10 years."

The program began taking applicants March 10 and will continue from 1 to 2:45 p.m. March 17 and 24 and April 14, and from 12:30 to 3:15 p.m. April 7 at Building 2797, Army Community Service, on Stanley Road.

Only 200 service members will be seen on each date, so Cleland suggests that people get there early.

People showing up must bring their most current prescription or a pair of glasses that are less than one year old. Lenses can be regular or bifocal.

The clinic chief said that people who wear contacts must bring their glasses if they want to be eligible. The prescription will be measured from existing lenses or copied from the latest prescription.

No eye exams will be given as part of this program.

Students at Fort Sam Houston are not eligible for the program, due to the short time they will be assigned here, Cleland added.

"We will be doing a survey after the glasses are given and we'll be following up with those who got them," he said. "Students just aren't here long enough for us to follow up with."

Retired service members and Department of the Army civilians are also not eligible for this program, and only reservists that have been activated for more than 30 days can apply.

"This is a great opportunity for service members to have input on what kind of frames they like," Cleland said.

"Fort Sam Houston is only one of five military locations in the United States that is taking part in this.

"We want to see what people will pick and what they actually want to wear," Cleland added. "These packages are worth about $200 to $250, so it's also a chance to save some money and get some stylish glasses."

Page last updated Tue March 16th, 2010 at 16:34