SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio -- It's taken a while to happen, but renovation of second-floor space at UH University Suburban Health Center has been completed for the opening of the Retina Center of Ohio.
At nearly 6,000 square feet, the clean, modern space was the site of a grand opening event Sept. 29 attended by South Euclid Mayor Georgine Welo, several members of the medical community and about 150 others.
The event closed the door on a two-year wait for Drs. Suber Huang and Michael Varley who have been practicing on an upper floor at the medical center since October, 2014 while renovations of former allergy/immunology and ears, nose and throat offices took place.
"Our future is to continue to grow and to have Ohio's best retina practice," said Huang, who serves as the practice's CEO, and whose resume includes training at Johns Hopkins University, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami.
Varley, originally of Cleveland Heights, returned to the area about three years ago after practicing for 20 years in West Virginia. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Case Western Reserve University Medical School, Varley partnered with Huang after the two became familiar with each other from their shared University Hospitals background.
Together, the doctors have prided themselves on establishing a first-rate eye care facility at which they perform a variety of specialties. Those specialties include surgery; the use of specialized diagnostic equipment for retina and macular issues; domain optical coherence tomography; use of an electrophysiology unit to diagnose neurological and rare eye disorders; and ocular ultrasonography.
"Our tagline is 'expert retina care,'" Huang said. "We're physicians first, optical physicians second, and retina specialists, most of all."
When Huang was asked why South Euclid was chosen to open the Retina Center of Ohio, he replied, "This building. This is a complex with a five-operating-room ambulatory surgery center with virtually every specialty practiced here, and an imaging center. It's a well established, respected place to practice, and it has free parking."
Huang said people with eye problems can make Retina Center of Ohio a first stop for care.
"If (people's problems) have to do with the retina, we can offer care, or send them to a specialist," he said. "Other (opthalmologists) will send patients to us if the problem concerns the retina."
Those seeking tests for glasses, however, should see an opthalmologist.
As thenortheast Ohio population has aged, macular degeneration is a condition with which area eye doctors have regularly dealt.
"Macular degeneration is certainly age related," said Varley, who has been in practice since 1988 "Fifty percent of patients who are 90 years old have it. Of course, not everyone reaches 90, but there aren't many diseases half of all people get."
Caused by the deterioration of the central part of the retina, macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss.
Huang said that medical advances have allowed for better success rates in the treatment of the disease.
"We used to be able to correct (macular degeneration) in 4 percent of cases, now it's 40 percent. In the last several years, that's a 1,000-percent improvement."
Many eye/retina issues revolve around diabetes. Again, Huang, who has practiced since 1991, said something can be done to help those with diabetes-related eye issues.
"Ninety percent of blinding retinal disease from diabetes can be treated," he said. "The key is early detection and a dilated exam."
Huang said that, upon opening the practice's doors in its new location Sept. 29, there were immediately several patients who came in with retinal emergencies. Such emergencies included that day, and in past days, were blurry vision, pain in the eye, infections, chemical-related irritation, items that got lodged in the eye, and trauma from being poked.
The Retina Center of Ohio has also treated patients for such things as waviness in patients' sight, blank spots and flashes and floaters.
"People tend to be overly optimistic about their sight," Varley said. "They think if they have a problem, it will just go away.
"But many say that vision is the one sense they'd like to lose least. It's their most prized sense."
While Huang noted that, "Most people just wake up, open their eyes and they see," he believes people should not hesitate to seek immediate correction of a problem.
When Retina Center of Ohio opens it new doors officially for the first time Oct. 3, people in northeast Ohio will have an all-new place to seek that help.
Retina Center of Ohio, located at University Suburban Health Center, 1611 S. Green Road in South Euclid, is open 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Patients can call for evening and same-day appointment times. Call 216-382-3366, or visit RCOretina.com.
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