Spring 2017 
Editors D. Brian Kim, MD
& W. Barry Lee, MD


Society Leadership

D. Brian Kim, MD

W. Barry Lee, MD

Vice President
Jeff Payne, MD

James Brooks, Jr., MD

Immediate Past-President
McGregor Lott, MD

Councilor to AAO
S. Anna Kao, MD

Executive Director
Lasa Joiner


Class of 2017

Elizabeth Crandall, MD
Bret Crumpton, DO
Michael Jacobs, MD
Michael Magbalon, MD
Tassos Costarides, MD, PhD

Class of 2018
G. Baker Hubbard, MD
Jeremy Jones, MD
William Marks, Jr., MD
Randall Ozment, MD
Emory Patterson, MD

Class of 2019
Amy Estes, MD
Nadeem Fatteh, MD
David Hemmings, MD
Tushar Suthar, MD
Margaret Wong, MD

Legislative Chair
Malcolm S. Moore, Jr., MD

PAC Chair
Jeffrey A. Carlisle, MD

Upcoming Events

Prevent Blindness Vision Clinic
May 20, 2017
Mulkey-Ndawula Event Center
Moultrie, Georgia

2017 GSO Annual Meeting 
August 4-6, 2017
The Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island

Night For Sight: Benefitting Prevent Blindness Georgia
November 3, 2017
Piedmont Driving Club


GSO's official professional recruitment board is a digital forum where members can post listings about opportunities in their practices: staff openings, available equipment, changes of address, etc.


Click here to fill out a short online form and place your ad today. 

Click here to view the current listings.



Legal Defense Fund

The LDF is a rainy day fund dedicated to defending the practice of ophthalmology wherever legal issues arise: in the courts, state agencies, or in the legislative branch.

 Contribute to the LDF today and show your support for the future of ophthalmology. 

GSO Foundation

The Georgia Society of Ophthalmology Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization whose mission is to support, promote, and develop projects and programs that raise awareness of and offer assistance to Georgians with ocular disease and conditions of the eye. The GSO Foundation funds projects that support underserved populations and address unmet needs related to eye health and access to care in Georgia.  

Interested in giving back to your community? Click here to make a donation to the GSO Foundation.


We Want To Hear From You

If you are interested in contributing to the next edition of the newsletter (i.e. honors, awards, promotions, authorship, or other news of interest) simply send your submission (or submission idea) to: sally@ga-eyemds.org

Eye Openers is GSO's members-only newsletter that focuses on current issues in ophthalmology, member news, association news and updates, legislative issues, practice management, and other subjects of interest to Georgia ophthalmologists.

The GSO does not necessarily endorse the opinions or statements contained in articles or editorials published in Eye Openers.


GSO Goes To Washington 

This April, GSO had 18 members representing our organization in the nation’s capitol during AAO’s 2017 Mid-Year Forum. Face-to-face interaction with legislators is one of the most powerful ways to affect policy, and the following members shared with congressional lawmakers what matters to Georgia’s ophthalmologists, our practices, and our patients.

  • Maria Aaron, MD
  • Nick Anand, MD
  • Zach Balest, MD
  • Himanshu Banda, MD
  • David Bogorad, MD
  • S. William Clark, MD
  • Scott Cole, MD
  • Bret Crumpton, DO
  • John Godard, MD

  • David Hemmings, MD
  • Jeremy Jones, MD
  • Anna Kao, MD
  • Jennifer Kim, MD
  • Danlin Mao, MD
  • William Marks, MD
  • Morgan Micheletti, MD
  • Timothy Olsen, MD
  • Purnima Patel, MD
  • Heather Weissman, MD




This advocacy trip focused on federal issues including (but not limited to): prescription drug pricing, funding for the National Institutes of Health & National Eye Institute and the Department of Defense Peer Reviewed Vision Research program, and relief for physicians from onerous Medicare quality reporting requirements. Members also continued to promote the successful TECS program being pioneered by the Atlanta VA Eye Clinic.

In addition to meeting with members of the Georgia delegation, including Senator Johnny Isakson (last photo) and Representative Buddy Carter (first photo), as part of AAO's Mid-Year Forum, GSO leaders accepted the AAO 2017 Platinum Participation Award and received recognition from AAO President Cynthia A. Bradford, MD, CEO David Parke, MD and Secretary for State Affairs Kurt Heitman, MD. Each year, 2 societies are selected by the Academy’s Secretariat for State Affairs for recognition of outstanding support of the Advocacy Ambassador Program. In 2017, the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology and the Minnesota Academy of Ophthalmology received the Platinum Participation Award. 



Spotlight: Jill Thornton, President & CEO of Prevent Blindness Georgia

Atlanta-native Jill Thornton has worked with non-profit organizations for more than 25 years, and she’s thoroughly enjoyed every minute. After spending 13 years at the Make A Wish Foundation Georgia, Jill took the wheel at Prevent Blindness because she loves a challenge and in her words, “when you believe in something, it’s really easy to be involved.”

A Novel Approach 
The goal of PBG is to prevent blindness in all Georgians, and the organization tackles this problem with a three-pronged approach that addresses Georgians at all stages of life. “We have three different programs covering people from the very young to the very old, and that’s what makes us exciting,” says Jill.

The Star Pupils program provides high-quality vision screenings for three, four, and five-year olds. “Young children don’t know that something’s wrong, they don’t know to say that they can’t see out of their right eye.” So Prevent Blindness sends experienced screeners into pre-schools all over the state to screen for common sight problems like amblyopia, strabismus, myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. Because of the very high level of experience of the professionals that Prevent Blindness uses to perform these screenings, they catch problems that regular screeners may not.  Approximately 8% of children fail to pass these screenings, whereupon Prevent Blindness Georgia refers them to providers who are willing to work with very young patients. “80% of a child’s learning is through their eyes. We try to get to them as early as possible,” says Jill.

Through its Vision Outreach program, Prevent Blindness Georgia provides quality, comprehensive, free eye exams for adults who are indigent, low-income, and uninsured. After performing these comprehensive exams, patients exhibiting signs of eye disease—such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, or macular degeneration—they are referred for further treatment and follow-up care. 11% of adults screened through Vision Outreach need follow-up care for eye disease, and 96% need prescriptive eye glasses.

The third program run by Prevent Blindness is called the Georgia Retinal Imaging Project (or GRIP,) and focuses on screening the elderly for glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. GRIP utilizes state-of-the-art telehealth and retinal imaging technology to transmit data off-site to volunteer ophthalmologists—so these initial screenings are performed without patients having to physically go to a doctor’s office.

I ask Jill about her favorite aspect of Prevent Blindness Georgia.
“I love to see the fundraising and see people that respond, I love when I hear the stories…like the mom who tells me about how her child put on glasses and said ‘Look Mommy, there are leaves on the trees!'

I ask Jill about her favorite aspect of Prevent Blindness Georgia. “I love to see the fundraising and see how people respond about how they’ve benefited from the program. I love when I hear the stories…like the mom who tells me about how her child put on their new glasses and said, ‘Look Mommy, there are leaves on the trees!’ Or stories of adults who were previously unable to work, but after being correctly diagnosed and treated can read their prescriptions, read to their children, they can be part of society.” Jill can particularly relate to the newly diagnosed young people: growing up as a child with an undiagnosed eye condition, she always thought her brothers were cheating when they played the ever popular road-trip "billboard game."

Opportunity to Give Back
Prevent Blindness Georgia always needs volunteers: doctors who are willing to provide pro-bono services to whom they can refer adult patients, as well as doctors who are able and willing to treat young children. Interested GSO members can contact Laurie Irby, VP of Children's Programs at (404) 266-1548 lirby@pbga.org and DeAndria Nichols, VP of Adult Programs, at (404) 266-2895 dnichols@pbga.org.

Volunteer Opportunity This Month!

Prevent Blindness is hosting a Vision Clinic in Moultrie, Georgia on May 20th. Prevent Blindness Georgia will partner with Remote Area Medical (RAM) for this event and is looking for: ophthalmologists, optometrists, opticians, technicians, nurses and general volunteer support. This Vision Clinic will provide 300+ free eye exams and eye glasses to individuals without insurance. Click here to register as a volunteer. Call 404-399-8893 with any questions.

Save the Date: PBG's Night For Sight on Friday November 3, 2017

This annual benefit will feature a presentation of the Scott Pastor Person of Vision Award, which was created in the memory of late GSO member Scott Pastor, MD, and honors an individual who has not only had the vision to create a better community but the fortitude to realize that vision—resulting in an invaluable impact on the community. The recipient of this year’s Scott Pastor Person of Vision Award is GSO member Dr. Tom Harbin. The Night for Sight will also feature a performance by The Macular Degenerates, “The world’s only known band composed of eye doctors and their musically acclaimed patients.”

GSO 2017 Annual Meeting: Register & Reserve Your Room Today

August 4-6 at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

Join GSO this summer and have a luxury hotel experience at half the price.  The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island is a top-ranked, five-star hotel where rooms normally go for $500+ a night. Register for GSO's Annual Meeting & reserve your room today so you and your family can enjoy a weekend of high class amenities and first class accommodations at the GSO room block rate of $289 a night.

There are a limited number of discounted rooms available, so don't wait to reserve your room!

Click here to register for the meeting.

Click here to make your reservation online.



2017 Legislative Battle: OD Injection Legislation

The issue of expanding optometrists’ scope of practice to include performing injections into Georgia’s eyelids developed into a Byzantine battle of political intrigue that evaded resolve until the final hour of the final day of the session. Here is a timeline breakdown of the major events, bills, and key players. 

January 11

The first bill, HB 36, sponsored by Rep. Earl Ehrhart and Rep. John Meadows, is introduced. 

The broad language in HB 36 would have allowed optometrists to perform a variety of extraocular injections, and would have expanded the therapeutic authority of optometrists to prescribe any pharmaceutical agent “related to” diseases or conditions of the eye and adnexa.

January 24

A group of 30 optometrists arrive en masse at the Capitol building to lobby the members of the House Health & Human Services Committee.

February 7

The House Health Committee, chaired by Rep. Sharon Cooper, holds a two-and-a-half-hour hearing for HB 36; including extensive testimony from GSO leadership. The committee holds a voice vote and HB 36 fails 14 to 12.

February 18

The second bill is introduced, HB 416 , once again sponsored by Rep. Ehrhart and Rep. Meadows.

Otherwise identical to HB 36, HB 416 adds a provision requiring either the completion of or enrollment in a 30-hour certification course.

February 21

HB 416 is assigned to House Health, the same committee where HB 36 met its demise.  

February 22

 A 3rd OD injection bill is introduced in the Senate: SB 221, sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman. 

February 23

Sen. Unterman gives SB 221 an extremely abbreviated hearing in the Senate Health Committee, after two hours’ notice on the committee agenda and only allowing GSO members a few minutes to testify against the bill.  SB 221 passes the committee, moves to the full Senate.

February 24

HB 416 fails to pass the House Health Committee. 

March 3

Following a misleading presentation from sponsor Sen. Unterman, SB 221 receives a vote on the Senate floor and passes 34 to 17.

March 6

Now in the opposite chamber, SB 221 is assigned to the House Health Committee (where HB 36 and HB 416 were previously thwarted.)

March 14

After three separate OD injection bills have been stalled, first threat is heard that an existing Senate Bill assigned to a different committee will be gutted and filled with OD injection language. 

March 20

In one day: Language from SB 221 is inserted into SB 153, a bill originally about hearing aids and sponsored by Sen. Matt Brass; SB 153 is presented to the House Regulated Industries Committee by Reps. Ehrhart and Meadows, and after only one hour of testimony SB 153 passes a committee vote.

March 22:
11 Alive airs news story on the “Zombie Bill” 

March 24:
SB 153 goes to the House floor. Despite passionate and convincing testimony from Rep. Betty Price, MD, it passes by a vote of 121 to 36.

March 30, Sine Die
SB 153 is put before the Senate to make a final agree. Sen. Brass makes misleading statements while presenting the bill, saying certain amendments were made on behalf of the Medical
Association of Georgia. 

At 11:45 pm on the final day of the session, SB 153 receives final passage by a vote of 30 to 21.


Thank you to all GSO members who participated in the effort to stop this legislation.

To read our complete legislative summary for the 2017 session of the Georgia General Assembly, click here.

Humanitarian Work in the Dominican Republic

Drs. Brian Kim and Michael Jacobs spent a week last October traveling to the Dominican Republic as part of the Surgeons for Sight (SFS) team.  Based in Greenville, SC, SFS is a Christian non-profit, tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to help disadvantaged people, both locally and abroad, get the eye care they need to lead productive lives.  These GSO members joined fellow surgeon Dr. Millin Budev of Charleston, SC, along with eight SFS staff members who assisted with patient screening, translation, OR preparation, and patient counseling.  

During the mission, forty-seven patients received cataract 
surgery  at two separate facilities.

During the mission, forty-seven patients received cataract surgery at two separate facilities.  While many GSO members may perform this number on a single OR day, this was a considerable accomplishment under the circumstances: extreme cataract density, negligible view through the microscope, no wheeled OR stretchers, nor a team of pre-op or PACU nurses familiar with the normal flow of a busy cataract day.


The patient population, while diverse, shared a commonality in their appreciation for the group’s volunteer efforts.  The pathology far exceeded that of our local communities, with most cataracts not amenable to phacoemulsification.  Fortunately, Dr. “Magic Hands” Kim unleashed his unwieldy MSICS skill set, restoring sight to the truly blind from their “catarocks”.  

Several GSO members participate in humanitarian trips throughout the year, to places including Honduras, Africa, and the Caribbean.  Please contact the GSO office for information should you have interest in pursuing such an experience in the future.


Member News

Maria Aaron, MD, Named Secretary of AAO Annual Meeting

Emory Eye Center ophthalmologist and decade-long member of the GSO Maria Aaron, MD, has been selected as secretary for the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s (AAO) Annual Meeting. The position is a three-year appointment based on AAO member voting. As secretary, Aaron will ensure that the Annual Meeting provides the best opportunity for ophthalmologists and eye care providers to update their knowledge and skills. She also will be responsible for all the Academy programs, including ceremonial, educational, clinical and nonclinical. “I thoroughly enjoyed the challenges and rewards of educating residents,” Aaron says. “In my new role as associate dean, I’m responsible for the 104 residency programs and 1,271 residents and fellows at Emory. Now I look forward to finding ways to attract multiple generations of ophthalmologists to the Annual Meeting so they can further their education.”


Reay H. Brown, MD to Deliver Innovator's Lecture at ASCRS

Dr. Brown is being honored with the Charles D, Kelman, MD Innovator's Lecture and Medal at the 2017 ASCRS * ASOA Symposium & Congress in Los Angeles this May. "The Kelman Innovator Award is the highlight of my career," Dr. Brown says. He receives the award for his contributions to the field of glaucoma surgery, which have laid the foundation for many of the microinvasive glaucoma surgery options currently available. 

AAO Champion Dr. Drew Ferguson Sworn In to the U.S. House of Representatives

Dr. Drew Ferguson is now officially a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Georgia's 3rd district. With his dentistry background, and strong family history in medicine, he understands the importance of having a voice from medical professionals in Congress.


GSO members Lawrence Brack, MD, S. Anna Kao, MD, and John Goddard, MD are pictured here presenting Dr. Ferguson with a PAC check from AAO. Dr. Kao attended Dr. Ferguson's swearing-in celebration.


Welcome New GSO Members 

Namita Bhardwaj, MD

Southeast Permanente Medical Group

Victor Copeland, MD

Athens Retina Center

Aldo Espinoza, MD

MCG, Augusta University

Kevin Gertsch, MD

North Georgia Eye Clinic

Daniel Hwang, MD

Eye Consultants of Atlanta

Eric Jennings, MD

Georgia Ophthalmology Associates, PC

Ghazala O'Keefe, MD

Emory Eye Center

Jordan Patton, MD

MCG, Augusta University

Derrick Pau, MD

Eye Consultants of Atlanta

Javier Servat, MD

Oculofacial Plastic Surgeons of Georgia

Kathryn Shmunes, MD

MCG, Augusta University

Heather Weissman, MD

Atlanta Ophthalmology Associates

This is a publication of the
Georgia Society of Ophthalmology
GSO Executive Office
2700 Cumberland Parkway, Suite 570
Atlanta, Georgia 30339
(404) 299 6588