Swagel Wootton: Celebrating 60 Years of Excellence in Eye Care

February 23rd, 2022

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As Swagel Wootton Eye Institute celebrates our 60th year since opening in 1962, we want to celebrate with you, the patients and communities we’ve been serving in the East Valley! We are proud to carry on the tradition of improving people’s lives through better vision and outstanding patient experiences. Follow along with us, as we recount the journey of ophthalmic advancements and celebrate our milestones – from founding to today.

1962: Dr. James Wootton Opens an Eyecare Clinic

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Dr. James Wootton founded and opened the doors of Eye Surgeons LTD. Upon founding, Dr. Wootton conceived a vision that has remained our top priority throughout the years and to the present day: to provide the highest-quality eye care and state-of-the-art treatments to the area.

1967: Modern Cataract Surgery Introduced

When Dr. Charles Kelman invented phacoemulsification, modern-day cataract surgery, our institute excitedly looked forward to the day when we could learn and practice this innovative procedure. This method involves making tiny incisions in the cornea and then using a needle releasing ultrasound waves to break up the eye’s natural lens. Subsequently, the surgeon suctions the emulsified lens from the eye.

The careful technique is well-known for being safe and effective.

1972: Lorin Swagel Joins the Practice

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As Dr. Lorin Swagel joined the practice as a partner. Graduating from the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary / Allied Health School of Ophthalmology a year prior, Dr. Swagel brought a fresh wealth of knowledge and technique to our establishment.

1973: Radial Keratotomy Is Discovered

Ophthalmologist Svyatoslov Fyodorov recognized a child with myopia, nearsightedness, had better eyesight after incurring corneal damage from glass fragments. After investigating further, he noted that the injuries had flattened the cornea. Dr. Fyodorov developed the radial keratotomy technique. Although the method was only brought to the United States in the early 1980s, it was a significant precursor to the excimer laser used in the late 1980’s, still used today.

1980: Advancements in IOL

Dr. Steven Shearing, an American ophthalmologist, developed a modern IOL design in the 1970s. There were many important advances that allowed for substantial improvement in technology. Dr. Thomas Mazzocco created a silicone foldable IOL in 1980, allowing doctors to make smaller incisions. For our patients, this not only means freedom from traditional glasses but additionally, quicker healing.

1988: First PRK Procedure is Performed

Across the globe, in the 1970s, a team of researchers and inventors in Moscow developed the first excimer laser. Almost two decades later, Dr. Steven Trokel, an American ophthalmologist, introduced an excimer laser for laser vision correction. Correspondingly, he led a team in performing the first photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) procedure, effectively reshaping the cornea with the excimer laser. Our eye care team anticipated the mid-1990s when this would become available to our patients.

1988: Dr. Wendy Wootton Joins the Practice

Dr. Wendy Wootton joined our practice with qualifications from the University of California / San Francisco School of Medicine. We delighted in having her expertise for a variety of conditions, as did a great many of our patients.

Late 1980s: Swagel Wootton Uses Silicone IOLs in Cataract Patients

Swagel Wootton begins offering foldable, silicone IOLs to cataract patients. These innovative lenses fold, making them more flexible than previous natural lens replacements. As a result, our eye doctors are able to make smaller incisions during cataract surgery, decreasing the risk of postoperative complications and speeding healing.

1991-1992: Swagel Wootton Expands Reach in East Mesa

Swagel Wootton decided to expand its office to reach more patients in need of excellent vision treatment and eye care services. We successfully established the East Mesa office which stands proudly today, a testament to our commitment to Arizonans.

1991: First Successful LASIK Surgery Performed in U.S.

Dr. Stephen Slade and Dr. Stephen Brint performed successful LASIK surgery in the United States. LASIK reshapes the cornea with an excimer laser, similar to the PRK technique. However, surgeons carefully create a corneal flip prior to the reshaping.

1995: FDA Approves PRK; Swagel Wootton Introduces PRK to Patients

When the FDA approved PRK, our eye care team looked forward to the visual possibilities it would bring to our patients suffering from nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Our staff introduced it to the East Valley community. Our patients appreciated the benefit of safe and effective laser vision correction.

1996: Swagel Wootton Participates in FDA Trials for LASIK

We are proud that our very own Dr. Wendy Wootton was the only female ophthalmologist to participate in Arizona’s FDA clinical trials for LASIK surgery. With her firsthand experience of LASIK, our clinic would go on to recommend the technique with full awareness and knowledge of its advantages. Fortunately, we did not have to wait long as LASIK became FDA-approved in the same year. It steadily grew to become the most popular type of vision corrective procedure in the United States.

1997: ICL is Developed as an Alternative to LASIK

STAAR Surgical developed and introduced an Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) as an alternative to LASIK surgery. With the ICL technique, surgeons can implant a contact lens behind the iris in the eye. A decade later, with full FDA approval, many patients enjoyed permanent vision correction for their myopia.

2005: Swagel Wootton Opens Clinic in Chandler

Swagel Wootton opened the Chandler location, which opened our practice to many more East Valley residents seeking high-quality eye care and advanced treatment. In the same year, the FDA approved Multifocal Intraocular Lens Implants (Multifocal IOLs), and our team prepared to provide this technique to our community.

2006: Swagel Wootton Continues to Add to Roster of Services, including adding Visian ICL as a vision correction procedure.

2014: Swagel Wootton Continues to Provide Eye Care Excellence

Swagel Wootton begins performing laser-assisted cataract surgery using the LenSx laser. The LenSx® femtosecond laser uses focused light to create precise incisions during cataract surgery. Our eye doctors use a computer-guidance system to achieve more accurate results.

Dr. Daniel McGehee earned the “Best Eye Doctor” title from the East Valley Tribune. Of course, this came as no surprise to our patients, as he had 22 years of experience providing exemplary eye care.  In the same year, we welcomed Dr. Janice Pierce to the Swagel Wootton Eye Institute. She graduated from the University of North Dakota and Pacific University College of Optometry, displaying great knowledge and skill.

2017: FDA Approves the IOL

The FDA approved the Light Adjustable IOL, showing us just how far eyecare technology has come. The IOL is a photo-sensitive lens adjustable via UV light. In this way, individuals will soon achieve a precise prescription lens! We look forward to introducing and performing this procedure in the coming year.

2019: New Eye Care Experts Join the Team

In the same year, we welcomed two doctors to our Swagel Wootton team, Dr. Loan Ramsey and Dr. Renee Hanson. With outstanding academic backgrounds and extensive experience, they offer superior eye care to our patients today.

2020: Swagel Wootton Eye Care Team Continues to Grow

Dr. JoAnn Reed and Dr. Leah Janousek joined our team, completing the amazing eyecare team we have today! Their education and experience certainly stand out as impeccable testaments to their eye care and vision treatments.

2022: Swagel Wootton Looks to the Future with Advancements in Eye Care

In 2022, we have many special announcements to celebrate! First, we’d like to recognize Dr. Daniel McGehee who has spent 30 years with Swagel Wootton Eye Institute, delivering outstanding patient care. We greatly appreciate all that he has done for our center and our community in the past three decades and will continue to carry forward into the future.

Second, we’re excited to announce that we will become one of the first clinics in Arizona to offer the Light Adjustable Lens to our patients. Our Swagel Wootton ophthalmologists will implant this IOL to enhance your vision following cataract surgery. In this way, your surgeon will carefully and precisely reshape the lens to meet your specific needs.

Of course, our major crowning achievement is our 60 years of service to the East Valley. Our skilled and qualified eye care team addresses many different eye care concerns and provides excellent eye care treatments. We look back towards 1962 with an appreciation for our founders and their respect for ophthalmology and look forward to the future and the potential it holds for further eye care advancement for you and all our patients.

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