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War Surgery and Medicine

Recommendations for the Future

Recommendations for the Future

For a regular army in peacetime standards are usually raised, but for any scheme of national service or for mobilisation in war about 90 per cent of eligible men will be obviously Grade I on visual standards, about 10 per cent will need to be referred for specialist opinion, about 5 per cent will need glasses, and there will be a very small number visually unfit for any service. These rejects will amount to one or two per cent of the whole. If, however, recruits are tested for, say, colour vision and those with a defect are downgraded, some thousands of men in New Zealand will be needlessly wasted. If the results are not used to grade the men it is better that the tests should not be made. It should also be realised that to order spectacles for a man is tantamount to excluding him from service with the infantry or armoured regiments, and must not be done without very good reason.

In order to make the best use of available manpower a recruit who is not obviously Grade I should be seen by an ophthalmic page 443 surgeon for a medical estimation of his capacity. It is always unwise to grade a man only to have to grade him up again should manpower conditions change.

The minimum requirements for a division overseas are two ophthalmic surgeons, one for the ophthalmic wing at the base hospital and equipped with such heavy instruments as a giant magnet, corneal microscope and diathermy, and the other with lighter equipment for attachment to the CCS when required. In addition, there should be a mobile opticians' unit. It is important that the ophthalmic surgeons should be constitutionally fit as they are not dispensable. At the base hospital the ophthalmic surgeon requires the assistance of a trained ophthalmic nursing sister and a clerk of lance-corporal rank. For the more mobile surgeon an orderly is sufficient. These officers and other ranks should not be on a hospital's establishment. If the Force should be widely dispersed an extra ophthalmologist with assistants would be required.

The necessary equipment, which must include a generous supply of essential drugs and engines capable of generating electricity of voltage suitable for the instruments, should be accumulated in peacetime so that the units may sail prepared to function efficiently and at once wherever they may be sent.

diseases of the eye2 NZEF, MEF and CMF
Admissions to Hospital, July 1941-December 1945 Invalided to New Zealand, 1940–45
Conjunctivitis 363 21
Defective vision 117 4
Keratitis 171 22
Blepharitis 79 3
Pterygium 56 3
Iritis 23 9
Choroiditis 23 20
Amblyopia 19 17
Myopia 21 9
Astigmatism 14 3
Strabismus 10 2
Cataract 9 15
Trachoma 22
Other 232 69 (Includes some injuries)
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1137 219