On his seventh birthday, a young boy from a small farming community in Baylis, IL was involved in an auto accident that would set the trajectory of his life. The accident left him badly scarred, and for years he was in and out of surgery for functional and cosmetic repairs. His positive interactions with numerous physicians influenced more than just his healing. In fact, this youngster would soon become singularly focused on attending medical school in order to become a physician caring for patients the way his doctors cared for him.
Today, John A. Waters, M.D., is a board-certified ophthalmologist who understands that what he can offer patients is hope. It is the very thing that so many physicians offered him as a boy during his recovery.
LASIK (laser vision correction) is one of the ways Dr. Waters is able to bring hope to those who have been so dependent on glasses and contact lenses. He understands the issues people struggle with. “For those dependent on glasses and contacts, the fear of losing their contacts or breaking their glasses is very real,” he says. “Imagine waking up in the middle of the night not being able to find your glasses, or swimming in the lake and having your contacts fall out.”
It’s not just fear that motivates people to have LASIK though, it’s also the need for an improved quality of life. Contacts can leave eyes feeling dry and uncomfortable, and glasses are difficult for people with active lifestyles. Then, there are those who have never worn glasses but, in their 40s, are now frustrated by the need for reading glasses.
Today, most people know someone who has had LASIK, and it’s become a popular choice for vision correction. LASIK uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea and restore functional vision. When considering LASIK, the surgeon’s experience is important. Back in 1989, Dr. Waters attended the first excimer laser course offered in the world. Since then, he has performed thousands of LASIK procedures to help patients gain freedom from glasses and contacts.
“It’s important to know that one treatment
doesn’t fit every patient.” – Dr. Waters
Those interested in LASIK should ask about the surgeon’s experience, what outcomes are like for patients with similar prescriptions, what the price includes, and how soon can they return to normal activities. Each surgeon’s protocol is slightly different, and the costs can vary. “The most important thing to me is that I develop a trusting relationship with my patients,” Dr. Waters asserts. “During the initial exam, I want to get to know my patient – how they function in their everyday lives and if LASIK may be their best option.”
It’s really a two-way street, the doctor explains further. “I have to decide whether the patient is a good candidate, and the patient must decide if the investment is worthwhile.” It’s important to know that one treatment doesn’t fit every patient, and an experienced surgeon will be able to offer correction options. For patients who might not be good LASIK candidates but have cataracts, other options include focusing lens implants, which can also reduce dependence on glasses and contacts.
“Ophthalmology is one of the most exciting specialties,” Dr. Waters shares. “We are going to see many life-changing treatments in the near future. For example, there are studies being conducted now to actually prevent nearsightedness and to correct the need for glasses after cataract surgery by lasering the lens itself.”
Unlike most medical procedures, LASIK is a choice. “It’s your eyes – arguably, the most important part of the body in terms of quality of life,” Dr. Waters says. “It’s my goal to give patients the best visual outcomes for the highest quality of life. Ultimately, it’s about giving them the same hope I was given so many years ago.”
John A. Waters, M.D. is a board-certified ophthalmologist and graduate of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Waters serves on the Board of Directors of the Greater Flint Health Coalition (GFHC) and Genesee County Medical Society (GCMS). In addition, he serves as Treasurer of the Michigan State Medical Society and is an alternate delegate to the American Medical Association. Dr. Waters is an instructor for the Hurley and McLaren Internal Medicine and Family Medicine Residency Programs. He recently received the Physician Leadership Award for his work with GCMS and GFHC on the water-related health concerns in the Flint community.