Patient Travels From Alabama for New Glaucoma Procedure

Everyone who watched television in the 1990s has heard of “Tim the Tool Man Taylor,” but it was “Tim the Safety Man” at Royal Cup Coffee in Birmingham, Alabama who Lea Moore credits for saving her eyesight. Well, him and now Dr. Steven Vold at Vold Vision in Northwest Arkansas.  Lea and her husband Barry, who also works for Royal Cup, drove nine hours from Morris, Alabama to have Dr. Vold treat her recently diagnosed glaucoma. Known as the “silent-thief” of sight, glaucoma is the second highest cause of blindness in the United States.

Lea’s glaucoma journey actually began not at the eye doctor but at work.

Ever sipped on a cup of coffee at Cracker Barrel, Waffle House or Chick-fil-a? Then you have tasted the work of Lea, Barry, and all the other fine folks at Royal Cup, a major importer and roaster of specialty coffee and fine teas.

It was just another day at Royal Cup, that is until “Tim the Safety Man” announced that all employees would need to begin using safety eye wear.  The company was also going to cover the cost of any needed eye glass prescription, so Lea and Barry decided to go to their local Optometry to get their eyes examined.

Walking into the clinic, the two only planned on doing the general eye exam. The optometrist thankfully persuaded the couple to spend an extra few dollars to get the visual field test, which allows the doctors to detect a broader range of eye diseases like glaucoma.

Glaucoma has almost no symptoms, and in most cases, by the time a patient realizes something is wrong, they already have some loss of vision.  Lea remembers how scared she was when the optometrist said he suspected she had glaucoma. “I use to think glaucoma was an older persons disease, but here I am in my forties and being diagnosed with it,” Lea said. “I knew genetics was a big risk factor, but nobody in my family has ever had it. I just kept thinking, where did this come from? How is this happening to me?”

Vision American in Alabama confirmed that Lea did in fact have the eye disease. Like most patients today, Lea began to research online. She clicked on a link from the National Glaucoma Research Foundation where she first saw the name of Dr. Steven Vold. “I read where he was providing advanced cutting-edge procedures for glaucoma patients, and that he was nationally known for his glaucoma care, so I called,” Lea said.

Dr. Vold, certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology, specializes in the diagnosis and management of glaucoma and cataracts, and has spent the last ten years in Northwest Arkansas providing the most advanced medical, laser, and surgical care available for treating glaucoma. “Eyesight is a precious thing, and I want to make sure we are giving our patients the absolute best in treatment,” Dr. Vold said.

 

In September of 2016, Dr. Vold became the first surgeon in the United States to perform the new glaucoma CyPass Micro-Stent procedure, after its approval by the Food and Drug Administration.  Dr. Vold has now performed the surgery on patients from Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Alabama and Arkansas, and he is talking to patients as far away as California who are looking into the procedure.  “Glaucoma is a scary disease for patients and can really affect their quality of life. As more advanced procedures come into the marketplace, it deepens the toolbox eye surgeons have to treat these patients at another level,” Dr. Vold said.

Barry and Lea made their first nine hour drive to see Dr. Vold in October of 2016 for the initial exam. “Talking to Dr. Vold and to patients who had already had the procedure gave me such confidence,” she said. Lea took all the information back to her doctors in Alabama. “They were excited for me and supportive of my decision, and that made me feel even better.”

Intra ocular pressure (IOP) is a term that most people know little about, that is until they are diagnosed with glaucoma.  A healthy IOP range is between 10 and 21. Lea caught her glaucoma in an early stage, so her pressure was just easing out of that range at 20. One day after her surgery, Dr. Vold had her pressure all the way down to five.

“I can’t even describe what I’m feeling,” Lea said. “For the first time since I found out about my glaucoma, I feel like everything is going to be just fine.”

While Lea and her husband were in Northwest Arkansas, they visited the Crystal Bridges Museum, enjoyed the trail system, and learned the history of the Prairie Creek Battlefield. Many might take their ability to see all the beauty of those sites for granted, but with glaucoma patients, they know their vision is a gift to be treasured.

“I’m thankful,” said Dr. Vold. “First, I guess I’m thankful for Tim the Safety Man. I’ve never met him, but he and her local optometrist ultimately led Lea to learning of her glaucoma now verses years from now, and because of that, I feel like our team has Lea in a really good place. This is what being an eye surgeon is all about.”