Opening Lines

Opening Lines


Giving the gift of sight abroad changed my life

by Katherine Burleson, Ophthalmic Technician

Working with John S. Parker, MD, in Birmingham, Ala. over the past two years has been a great pleasure. During this time, I have both worked as a technician and scheduled surgeries. I traveled with Dr. Parker in 2011 on his first mission trip to Baeza, Ecuador. I had only been working with him for about four months prior to going and got a crash course in screening patients prior to surgery. Over the course of a week, Dr. Parker performed many cataract extractions and cornea transplants. People traveled great distances, some many miles by foot, to have the opportunity to receive the gift of sight. Words cannot describe the joy we felt seeing the patients’ tears of joy as we removed their eye patches and revealed their new and improved vision. These moments remind us, not only of how fortunate we are to have access to these surgeries in the United States, but also of the ability we have to significantly impact the lives of others.

After greatly enjoying the mission trip to Ecuador, I jumped at the opportunity to accompany Dr. Parker to Granada, Nicaragua in 2013. Dr. Parker has been traveling to Granada for the past few years. We not only performed cataract and cornea surgeries, but we also spent time seeing patients who had received surgeries in the past. One of these patients in particular stood out. She received DMEK in 2012. Upon looking through the slit lamp, Dr. Parker told her that the surgery had gone so well, even he could hardly tell the DMEK had ever been done. Little did she know she had received a surgery that had only recently become available in the United States! To give people surgeries that are so scarcely in their part of the world is like performing miracles.

Despite being new to the field of ophthalmology, I have fallen in love. The two medical mission trips I have now been a part of have certainly been the greatest experiences of my life. I am now involved in fundraising for both groups, and have planned to travel to both Nicaragua and Ecuador next year. It is my greatest hope that more physicians, like Dr. Parker, will become involved in medical missions and share their many talents.


Left to right: Katherine Burleson (ophthalmic assistant), Andrea Vest (CRNA), Melissa Parker (Dr. Parker’s daughter), Gisella Mancarella (OR tech), Karen Burleson (Callahan Eye Hospital AVP).


AAO launches clinical data registry, IRIS, at 2013 meeting and online

by Bill Kekevian, Senior Associate Editor

■ The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) formally launched the country’s first comprehensive eye disease registry at the group’s annual meeting in New Orleans in November.

The Intelligent Research in Sight, or IRIS, registry is a centralized collection and reporting software tool designed to collect uniform data about a variety of aspects of ophthalmic practice, including analytical benchmarking against peer practices, surgical procedures, and trend analysis.

The software will provide ophthalmology practices a platform by which to promote practice innovations, swap notes, and compare practices with peers, according to the AAO.

Clinical data registries have traditionally been disease specific, says AAO CEO David W. Parke II, MD, in a video presentation. By contrast, the IRIS registry will also measure how clinical performance stacks up against the practice’s objectives, according to Dr. Parke.

The goal, he says, is for AAO members to use recorded data to improving quality of care.

According to the AAO website, the registry:

■ Provides benchmark reports on quality of care issues.
■ Identifies opportunities for improvement
■ Serves as a library for clinically relevant data on diseases.
■ Identifies pay-for-performance incentives.

“We’re doing this now because the spread of electronic medical records now make it possible to develop an outpatient registry,” Dr. Parke says. Uploading data is automatic and will not require extra processes from staff, according to Dr. Parke.

For more information on the IRIS registry, previously recorded webinars, or to see Dr. Parke’s video, visit at the IRIS registry’s AAO homepage at


■ Carl Zeiss Meditec, released a new glaucoma diagnostic and management software application, Forum Glaucoma Workplace. The software allows clinicians immediate access to visual field data, OCT scans, and fundus images to support glaucoma diagnosis and management.

■ The Gerald and Daphna Cramer Family Foundation has donated a $1.5 million gift commitment to The Glaucoma Foundation. The Glaucoma Foundation, which has invested some $5 million in researching a cure for glaucoma since 1984, says this is the largest single gift in its history.

■ Alfonse Cinotti, MD, FACS and David Noonan received JCAHPO’s Statesmanship Award. Dr. Cinotti was an original incorporator of JCAHPO in 1969. Mr. Noonan, COO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology for 37 years before retiring in 2009, was a strong supporter of JCAHPO. OP