2013 Top Doctor: Dr. Randall Tozer

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Medical school: Southern Illinois University

Years in practice: 28

Why did you choose ophthalmology?
Initially I completed a residency in internal medicine and became a board-certified internist. Eventually I realized I wanted to be involved in the surgical aspects of medicine. I love the technical challenges of ophthalmic surgery and studying the new advances and procedures that have developed in recent years. It is a tremendous feeling to walk into the exam room the morning following cataract or Lasik surgery and see that big smile on a patient's face.

What are some threats to eye health people may not be aware of?
Undetected glaucoma is one of the main threats to eye health because it is a silent disease. A patient may not experience symptoms until very late in the disease process. One can potentially develop significant and permanent vision loss. Glaucoma is not just a disease of the elderly. The professional baseball player Kirby Puckett had to cut his career short at age 35 because his glaucoma was not detected soon enough. Another big threat to eye health is smoking. It is a major risk factor in both macular degeneration and cataracts. Finally, diabetes is a major cause of preventable blindness in this country. As with glaucoma, one can have significant damage to the eye without symptoms initially. Routine eye exams can detect problems early and allow sight-saving treatment.

How often should people get their eyes checked?
Younger patients with no eye problems should be seen every 3-4 years. Because of problems like glaucoma and macular degeneration, patients should be seen more frequently as they get older – every 2-3 years after 40 and yearly after 65. Any patient who is diabetic should be seen once a year.

What distinguishes your practice from others?
I am board-certified in internal medicine and ophthalmology. While I limit my practice to medical and surgical ophthalmology, my training in internal medicine enhances my ability to diagnose and treat eye disease. I have also been fortunate to have dedicated colleagues and a caring staff. I get compliments daily about our employees, some of whom have been with us as long as 26 years. Our patients really appreciate seeing familiar faces each time they come in.