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Local eye doctor performs live surgery at American Society of Cataract Annual Meeting

Ophthalmologist Dr. Lawrence Woodard performed live surgery at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Annual Meeting in April in San Francisco.

Ophthalmologist Dr. Lawrence Woodard performed live surgery at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Annual Meeting in April in San Francisco.

Ophthalmologist Dr. Lawrence Woodard recently earned the prestigious opportunity to perform a live surgery at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Annual Meeting.

Woodard removed cataracts from a patient in front of an audience of thousands of peers from around the globe who had convened at the April conference in San Francisco. He and three other ophthalmologists were chosen to perform the surgery. Woodard is the first black eye doctor and only the second eye doctor from the Southeast to be awarded the responsibility to demonstrate the medical procedure.

"It's a great honor," said Woodard, who added that he was chosen based on his surgical skills and level of contribution to the field.

Woodard is a board certified ophthalmologist who serves as medical director of Omni Eye Services in Atlanta. He also visits East Metro Eye Care on a monthly basis to perform surgery. He specializes in laser cataract surgery, multifocal and toric intraocular lenses, and corneal surgery.

Woodard lectures extensively at international meetings, educating other surgeons and optometrists on cataract surgery techniques and new technologies. He recently became the first and only eye doctor in metro Atlanta to offer bladeless cataract surgery to patients.

Woodard invested in the equipment necessary to perform the surgery, which involves removing cataracts utilizing a laser, instead of the traditional technique of using the hand to guide a blade to remove the cataract. The laser surgery has been available in the United States for about a year and half and Woodard has offered the service since January.

Woodard said a laser makes an incision that is much more precise than a manual incision.

"Another advantage is that the laser can break up the cataract and it allows me to remove the cataract with less energy, which makes it less traumatic to the eye," Woodard said.

A third benefit is that laser cataract surgery allows the surgeon to treat any astigmatism that may exist in the eye, a common condition with cataracts.

"We could treat the astigmatism with a blade but a laser is more predictable and the benefit is that the patient is able to see better without glasses because the laser was able to treat the astigmatism in a more predictable manner," said Woodard.

Woodard, who holds a bachelor's degree from Morehouse College, completed medical school at Duke University and performed his internship at Mount Sinai Medical Center of Case Western Reserve University. He completed residency at the University of Pennsylvania's Scheie Eye Institute.

Woodard also completed a corneal and refractive surgery fellowship and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a founding member of the American-European Congress of Ophthalmic Surgery, and a member of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

Woodard, whose parents live in Conyers, resides in Alpharetta with his wife and two children. He has been practicing in the Atlanta area since 1999.

Woodard said he became intrigued by the eye during his pre-med study and in medical school he decided to make it his focus. He said he appreciated the brevity of eye surgery and the fairly quick gratification it yielded.

"My patients are very grateful because most patients are seeing better the day after the surgery," he said.