Clear Sight Into Fragile Globe: New Byers Eye Institute at Stanford Combines High Technology with Advanced Knowledge


I think he was pretty shocked by what he saw. He told me I was in danger of losing my vision and my eye.

-Jennifer Thompson, patient at Byers Eye Institute at Stanford Hospital & Clinics

Jennifer Thompson was about to have cataracts removed from her left eye when the surgeon suddenly stopped the procedure. Her eye was hemorrhaging and the accumulating damage to fragile tissues inside the eye was an immediate, serious threat to Thompson's vision.

After a two-hour surgery at the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford, performed by Theodore Leng, MD, Thompson's vision is almost completely back to normal. Leng is keeping careful watch on her eye health, however. Thompson may yet need another surgery.

The retina has the consistency of wet tissue paper. Touch it with an instrument and you will rip it.

-Theodore Leng, MD, Director of Ophthalmic Diagnostics, Byers Eye Institute at Stanford Hospital & Clinics

Jennifer Thompson is an active grandmother who knits for her two granddaughters. She loves to bake, especially scones, a traditional tea time treat in her native New Zealand. If she had lost the vision in her left eye, she would now have a far different life, one marred by difficulties in reading, driving and other daily activities.


- Our mothers weren't joking about carrots being good for our eyes. So are leafy green vegetables. A balanced diet, said Theodore Leng, MD, of Stanford's Byers Eye Institute, is an important part of healthy eyes.

- Wear a hat or sunglasses or both, Leng advises. Ultraviolet light can cause cancers on the surface of the eye, in addition to skin cancer on the eyelid.

- Ultraviolet light is also a likely impetus for cataract development and may also be a factor in macular degeneration. That condition, very often related to increasing age, is caused by cellular debris that accumulates between the retina and the choroid, another layer of tissue in the eye.

- Knowing the symptoms of retinal detachment can also prevent complete loss of vision. Those symptoms, which are painless, include the sudden appearance of floaters, debris that looks like bits of string or hair or spots. Sudden flashes of light in one or both eyes and a shadow over one area of vision can also mean trouble.

- Talk to your doctor if there is a family history of eye problems. Some diseases have a genetic component.

The Byers Eye Institute at Stanford is home to six specialized care centers. It offers the latest technologies for diagnosis and treatment. Its professional staff includes 25 eye care specialists in all services, including cataract evaluation and surgery, oculoplastic surgery, cornea and external eye disease, glaucoma, and neuro-ophthalmology. It opened in fall 2010 in a $26.3 million building at 2452 Watson Court, Palo Alto.

  • Cornea: transparent protective tissue
  • Iris: muscular ring that controls amount of light entering the pupil
  • Pupil: allows light through to retina
  • Lens: changes shape to allow focus at various distances
  • Retina: thin layer of tissue whose photoreceptor cells transmit signals to optic nerve and visual process centers in the brain
  • Macula: central portion of the retina that processes central field of vision and enables vision acuity

Get more information about the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford or call 650-723-6995.

I feel nothing short of lucky, thanks to the skills, empathy, concern and knowledge of Dr. Leng and his team.

-Jennifer Thompson, patient at Byers Eye Institute at Stanford Hospital & Clinics