Story by Deborah Welky | Photos by Abner Pedraza
Dr. Steven M. Naids, a highly skilled ophthalmologist with sub-specialty training in cataract surgery and eye disease, has joined the team at the Florida Eye Microsurgical Institute, which has offices in Wellington, Boynton Beach and Boca Raton.
Inspired by his father, Dr. Richard Naids, an ophthalmologist still practicing in New Jersey, Naids was drawn into the medical field. “Growing up, I saw how he would interact with his patients and the joy he brought to their lives, and I found myself wanting to do the same thing. He is my biggest influence,” Naids said.
A diplomate of the American Board of Ophthalmology, Naids received his medical degree from the Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, where he was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha national honor medical society.
He completed his residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and trained at the renowned Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, where his research interest included visual outcomes after cataract and corneal transplantation surgery.
Upon relocating to Beverly Hills, California, Naids was named an “LA Top Doctor” and national “Super Doctor.” He is an active member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, where he has received awards for outstanding research.
Yet the pull of South Florida was strong, as much of Naids’ family had already made the move.
“My family has been in Florida for the past decade,” he said. “I finished my training, went to LA and practiced alongside the top ophthalmologists in world. But with two young kids — and the pandemic — my wife and I realized it was so important to be with our family. So, I brought my family here, and I brought what I’ve learned over the last 10 years of training.”
While continuing to focus on comprehensive care of the entire eye, Naids practices the newest modalities of cataract and refractive surgery, as well as corneal transplantation.
“Cataract surgery has evolved tremendously over the last decade,” he said. “There are a number of amazing technologies to make surgery easier for patients, as well as to provide outcomes that we weren’t capable of obtaining even five years ago.”
Using a laser at the time of surgery is one such evolution, allowing patients with astigmatism to obtain some correction during the cataract surgery itself. Improved lenses for implantation is another scientific advance.
“When you have cataract surgery, we remove the natural part of the eye that has become cloudy and put in a lens that focuses light,” Naids explained. “But lenses have evolved to the point where we can provide an extended range of vision and tailor a patient’s vision to their needs. Assuming that the rest of your eye is healthy, with no glaucoma or macular degeneration, you should come out of cataract surgery with the best possible vision you’ve ever had. In the old days, we’d put in a lens, but you would probably still have to wear glasses every day. Today, cataract surgery has evolved into a refractive procedure, like Lasik. Many patients will enjoy a fuller range of vision after the surgery and may only have to wear reading glasses.”
In the case of a corneal transplant, the organ must be replaced with donor tissue.
“The cornea is the clear, front covering of the eye that protects the eye from the outside world,” Naids said. “But it is also one of the most important organs of the eye in terms of getting light to where it needs to go. A patient may have a disease of the cornea, or an infection, or have experienced trauma to the cornea that has left it swollen, scarred or irregular. In order to get them better vision, we have to replace tissue in full or in part.”
However, doctors have found that only one layer — the innermost — may have to be replaced. “The cornea was the first organ ever transplanted, and the art has definitely evolved over time,” Naids said. “Within the last 15 years, we’ve been able to do these selective layer corneal transplants, and patient recovery is much faster.”
Naids urged patients with frequent dry eye to seek help from an ophthalmologist. It is often much more than an irritating nuisance.
“Dry eye is a multi-factorial disease that results from either diminished tear production or problems with the oil glands in the eyelids. In virtually everybody, it’s a combination of both,” said Naids, who has a specialized interest in the management of dry eye disease. “Millions of people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with it, and we are probably underdiagnosing. We’ve seen it in people from teens on up. One of the biggest problems with it is that it affects both the patient’s eyesight and quality of life. One could blame it on body and hormonal changes, or on working with computers at home, but, again, in order for you to have your best quality of sight, your eyes can’t be dry. Your vision is affected, and it’s not just uncomfortable. As the day goes on, your vision becomes less clear, and you find yourself blinking to get a good quality image.”
Dry eye syndrome is something Naids takes into consideration when a patient comes in to discuss cataract surgery.
“The cornea is responsible for focusing light,” he noted. “If your cornea is dry, we won’t be able to accurately hit our targets as far as cataract surgery. We’ve got to get the dry eye under control first, even if it means delaying surgery for a few months. We suggest intense treatment in the beginning, and then decide on the best maintenance for each patient… There are a few excellent prescription eye drops out there that increase tear production, as well as some other anti-inflammatory medications. We treat oil glands with thermal pulsation — like a massage treatment for the eyelids — wait a few months, then proceed with the cataract surgery after we make sure the patient feels better. But dry eye is a chronic issue. If you let up, it will come back.”
When he’s not working, Naids enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children, playing golf and tennis, and watching his hometown Philadelphia sports teams.
The Florida Eye Microsurgical Institute is located at 2575 S. State Road 7 in Wellington. For more information, call (561) 792-1205 or visit www.fleyedocs.com.