Memphis Medical News Spotlights Dr. Aaron Waite

Banner - Dr. Waite prepares corneal graft
Dr. Waite looks through an operating microscope as he carefully prepares a corneal graft.

Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology Aaron N. Waite, MD, director of cornea, cataract and refractive surgery, is featured in the "Physician Spotlight" column of the January 2016 issue of Memphis Medical News (MMN). In addition to some biographical background on Dr. Waite's early life and education, the article also focuses on his role as a leading proponent of Descemet Membrane Epithelial Keratoplasty (DMEK), a brand-new, extremely successful cornea surgery.

The technique, which involves replacing a layer of cells on the back of the cornea with donor cells, is "new and a little bit tricky to perform," he says. For those who would benefit most from it, such as patients with Fuch's dystrophy, DMEK is phenomenal. It is a suture-less surgery with a very small incision, lower risk of rejection and faster recovery. It also offers life-changing visual improvements. In the MMN article, Dr. Waite describes one case of a patient who couldn't read the top letter on an eye chart before DMEK surgery, who now enjoys 20/30 vision.

Because it is so new and more difficult to perform, DMEK is still not as widely performed as its predecessor, DSAEK (Descemet Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty), but it is being performed and taught here at HEI. Dr. Waite says, "It's not something we want to exclusively do here. We want everyone who's doing corneal surgery to do this because it works so well."

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