Seeing Action - Dr. Joseph Dello Russo

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Laser doc lets G.I.s quit specs

Sgt. Catarino Rodriguez had to make a critical choice too often while stationed near Baghdad last year.

"Sometimes it was between picking up a piece of equipment or my glasses," says the 32-year-old soldier from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, who is now awaiting a second stint in Iraq.

"I don't want a problem to come up and I'm fumbling around trying to find my glasses, especially when someone's coming at you," Rodriquez added. "Putting another person in danger because of my glasses is just silly."

Now he and five other soldiers won't have to worry about constant sandstorms burning their contact lenses or searching for the clips that adjust their glasses in gas masks.

That's because veteran Manhattan eye surgeon Dr. Joseph Dello Russo gave them free laser surgeries yesterday.

"This will get rid of the what-ifs," said John Muglia, a 20-year-old Marine from Long Island who is set to ship out to Iraq in August.

"I won't have to worry about breaking my glasses and waiting weeks for a replacement pair to come. It will be such a relief."

Dr. Joeseph Dello Russo, 66, and his son Dr. Jeffrey Dello Russo, 36, contacted local military units after collaborating with laser companies to perform the free surgeries.

"I didn't get called to Vietnam, so the only way I can help them is with what I do," said the elder Dello Russo. "This is the best way I can support the guys that are defending us."

"Everyone that comes in says their eyesight is so important, but they obviously just don't understand how important these eyes are out there," the younger Dello Russo.

By Angie Wallace

Daily News Writer

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