Long days for eye surgeon

AT WORK

Ophthalmologist chose to specialize in glaucoma because the need was great, he says

May 21, 2008|By NANCY JONES-BONBREST | NANCY JONES-BONBREST,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Dr. Samuel Boles

Medical director and ophthalmologist

Anne Arundel Eye Center, Annapolis

Salary : $150,000

Age : 46

Years on the job : One

How he got started: Boles received his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia, obtaining his certification in 1989. His post-doctoral training included an internship with Yale University, a cornea research fellowship at Harvard University and residency at George Washington University. He later worked as a glaucoma fellow and clinical instructor with the University of California, San Diego. He went into private practice nine years ago in Baltimore, opening the Anne Arundel Eye Center in 2007.

Typical day : Boles said he puts in 60 to 80 hours each week. His time is split between office hours three or four days a week, and surgery two days a week. He generally sees about 25 to 30 patients a day for everything from quick follow-ups to extended patient consultations. He spends between 15 minutes and 30 minutes with each patient. During surgery days, he performs between two and 10 operations, depending on the complexity. These include scheduled and emergency.

His staff consists of two front-desk receptionists, two technicians and a manager.

Once a problem is diagnosed, Boles spends much of his time educating patients and their families about treatment, prevention and procedures. "Much of my job is being a cheerleader and coach."

Paycheck: Boles is still waiting to make a salary after opening the eye center a year ago. He said he expects to make $150,000 this year, but it takes time for insurance companies to process bills and payments.

Glaucoma specialty : Boles chose to focus on glaucoma and cataract care because there seemed to be a dearth of glaucoma specialists when he finished his training. "I wanted to go into a field where I felt I was needed. Really good glaucoma care was, and still is, desperately needed in every part of the country."

Typical patient: Middle-aged patients with a suspicion of glaucoma or early glaucoma. He also treats older patients with cataracts causing blurry vision.

Treating glaucoma: Many advances, including much-improved eye drops and laser procedures, have made it uncommon these days for someone to lose eyesight because of glaucoma.

Best advice: Routine, dilated eye exams, even if you don't need glasses, to catch any potential problems early.

The good: "People really value their vision and find it very precious. When I get a chance to help, they are very thankful, and that's very rewarding."

The bad: The paperwork.

Philosophy on the job: "I treat patients the way I want to be treated."

Extracurriculars: Boles enjoys spending time with his family. He likes windsurfing and racquetball. He lends his skills to charitable organizations and founded the Glaucoma Co-Management Roundtable. He serves on the board of the Polakoff Foundation, which raises awareness of glaucoma.

Nancy Jones Bonbrest

Special to The Sun

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