The analysis of postoperative endophthalmitis and inflammation is an area of research you have explored since receiving a grant in 1988. Why is this work important to you?
I am devoted to this study because it was financed by the ASCRS in order to provide a valuable service to society members. My colleagues and I analyze outbreaks of endophthalmitis or toxic inflammation, which we have termed toxic anterior segment syndrome (TASS). This analysis involves a tremendous amount of detective work, because doctors approach us with unexplained outbreaks of postoperative inflammation. We have developed protocols and means of examining these cases in an effort to determine why TASS is occurring. Our aim is to provide doctors with recommendations concerning how to prevent TASS from recurring in the future.
Why have you gravitated toward the research side of ophthalmology?
The reason why I enjoy research is that it allows me to be involved with work right from the start. I collaborate with companies and doctors on different ideas, especially regarding IOLs, and then I apply these concepts to animal or cadaveric eye models, observe how they are tolerated, and modify them accordingly. Occasionally, I have the opportunity to see a new idea or device advance from the initial stages in a laboratory, progress through clinical trials, and eventually be integrated into my practice where it may actually be used to help patients. This is very fulfilling.
Regarding your research on Calhoun Vision's light-adjustable IOL, what do you find most exciting?
This technology has the promise of providing all cataract patients with emmetropia. Calhoun Vision's light-adjustable IOL allows us to correct the IOL power postoperatively, a capability surgeons did not previously have. Linked with the digital light delivery system that the company has developed, this innovative IOL presents a limitless potential for adjusting the IOL power in vivo. The lens is exciting because it is a baseline technology that will have multiple applications in the future.
Why did you go into academics, and why would you advise residents to pursue such a specialty?
A career in academics was important to me because I simply love to teach, whether it be students, residents, fellows, or even practicing ophthalmologists. Teaching residents how to perform cataract surgery and witnessing their development are two of the most rewarding aspects of academics. I especially enjoy when they get what I call the aha moment, when, like in a cartoon, the light bulb appears above their head and they suddenly get it. It happens right before my eyes. Those in academics can see the progress that residents make day by day, and that is extremely rewarding.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love to mountain bike. One of the advantages of living in Utah is that I can literally leave my garage on my bike and be in a mountain canyon in about 20 minutes. Riding my bike through stands of aspen trees and meadows and ending up on a ridge line where I can look out over the valley for miles and miles is amazing. It is great exercise, and the beauty is breathtaking. It really does rejuvenate me. I must admit, I do this for the uphill ride and for the exercise. I go down slowly. I am not trying to catch air under my tires. The only air I want to catch is that which is going into my lungs.