For the first time, non-military community members in U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart can make eye exam appointments, order contacts and glasses, and see a doctor for acute eye conditions at a facility on post.
The Panzer Optical Center and Panzer Optometry Care facility opened in December in the Panzer Mall, bringing the community a level of eye care comparable to that in the U.S.
“It’s nice to finally be here,” said Dr. Eggie Lebron, optometrist. “People are really excited. In [a recent] tenant meeting, people were clapping.”
Until recently, only active duty service members could make eye appointments at the Stuttgart Army Health Clinic — family members and civilians had to wait to be seen on a space-available basis, or get a referral to an off-post clinic.
Now, all ID cardholders can make appointments at Panzer Optometry Care without a referral.
Panzer Optometry Care is a Tricare Prime Europe provider, so family members enrolled in the program are covered for annual eye exams. Those not covered under Tricare Prime Europe will be charged at rates comparable to clinics in the U.S.
Optometry Care patients can receive fittings for all types of contact lenses, including colored, multi-focal and gas-permeable. They can also obtain urgent care for ocular conditions. Off-post, they would normally need to visit multiple clinics for the same service, Lebron added. “Here, you’re just making one appointment.”
Linda Reynolds, a civilian spouse, recalled visiting German eye clinics before Panzer Optometry Care opened and appreciates the difference.
“It [was] very expensive. It takes a lot of time, many hours at multiple appointments. It was very difficult, actually, to even find a German provider that spoke enough English … ,” she said.
At the Panzer facility, Lebron can speak fluent English, German and Spanish.
Patients at Panzer Optometry Care can also get their stateside driver’s license renewal forms filled out, and try on glasses next door at the Panzer Optical Center. The optical center makes lenses in-store and is staffed by U.S.-trained and certified opticians.
Lebron relocated to Stuttgart from the USAG Mannheim Vision Center, which closed in October. USAG Stuttgart has replaced it as one of three military community optometry centers in Europe.
“Now, we have our Mannheim patients coming down to Stuttgart. We have people also coming from places like Grafenwöhr,” Lebron said.
To make an appointment, call civ. 07031-204-2350.