By Roxanne Avery
Ask most 8-year-olds what an oculoplastic surgeon is and most will respond by saying they don’t know. However, one very fortunate 8-year-old boy can tell you. His story began when he ended up on the wrong side of a dog’s claw. With his lower eyelid nearly torn completely off and his tear duct severed, it would take a very special surgeon to repair his eye and correct damaged facial features to return him to the way he looked before the accident. This case hit close to home for Jared R. Jackson, M.D., because he has a son the same age.
“After rebuilding his tear duct with a silicone tube we reconstructed his eyelid and put everything back in the right place,” said Jackson. “When I saw him six weeks later to remove the silicone tube, you could barely tell anything had happened. It’s amazing how well young people heal!” The tube came out without complications and his tear duct was functioning normally. Jackson said he was thrilled and the boy’s parents were thrilled, and all the boy wanted to do was talk about the golf tournament he had watched the last weekend—his eye was not bothering him at all. “That was a success!” Jackson said.
Oculoplastic surgery focuses on the eyelids, brows, orbit (eye socket) and surrounding tissues. It is plastic surgery in the sense that a lot of reconstructive work is done after facial trauma or tumor removal in addition to traditional eyelid repair for droopy or mal-positioned eyelids. Oculoplastic surgeons differ from traditional plastic surgeons, because they are fully trained eye doctors. In addition to working to achieve the best cosmetic outcome, they pay special attention to the way procedures around the eye affect the function of the eye and the patient’s vision.
This month, Jackson brings his expertise to Precision Vision with offices in South Oklahoma City, Midwest City, Edmond and Shawnee. He will join Darrell Pickard, M.D. (first laser cataract surgeon in Oklahoma City) in continuing to offer state-of-the-art procedures to patients. Graduating Summa Cum Laude from Brigham Young University, Jackson attended medical school and then was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society at the University of Iowa College of Medicine.
The organ system he enjoyed studying most was the eye and its surrounding structure. “I am fascinated by the eye. I think it is a miracle that it actually works! As I was considering different specialties, I knew if I wanted to be excellent in a specialty I would need to be a lifelong learner in that area. Ophthalmology is something I continually enjoy learning,” Jackson said. From there, he completed his internship at IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis before coming to OU Health Science Center and the Dean McGee Eye Institute for residency in ophthalmology and fellowship in oculoplastic surgery.
Helping people see better is how Jackson wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. “It has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me to participate in this process for my patients over the last four years,” said Jackson. “I enjoy the challenge and complexity of the eye exam and ocular procedures. From eyelid and orbital surgery, to re-routing tear ducts, to laser procedures, to microscopic intraocular surgery in very tight spaces, ophthalmology is demanding, intricate and exciting.”
“Everything we do has an impact on quality of life—from procedures as simple as removing excess upper eyelid skin to improve a patient’s peripheral vision, to opening a patient’s tear ducts to stop constant watering, to repositioning patient’s eyelids to improve persistent eye irritation. I also enjoy reconstructive surgery because it is often like piecing together a puzzle,” Jackson said.
When asked what advice he would give young people regarding their eyes, Jackson said, “Protect them! Most of us don’t think about our eyes unless they are giving us problems, but it is important to think about taking care of them. I have seen so many young people with eye injuries that could have been prevented by wearing safety glasses. They don’t have to be the big shop glasses, either. These days almost any style of frame for regular glasses or sunglasses can be fit with polycarbonate (protective) lenses.”
Dr. Jackson has this advice for everyone:
Everything that affects the health of your body affects the health of your eyes. Most people don’t realize this, but high blood pressure, cholesterol issues, diabetes and other common health problems can damage the eyes and decrease eyesight. The sooner we catch these problems, the more we can do to protect vision.
Have your eyes checked and if there’s anything that makes you unhappy regarding vision, explore your options. The field of ophthalmology is quickly advancing with new therapies and procedures constantly being developed. This means there is something available to help the majority of patients.
Please remember to wear your safety glasses!
Jackson grew up in Provo, Utah as the third of six children. His father was a physician, and it was through him that Jackson became interested in medicine. “My father loves his job, and I knew I wanted a similarly fulfilling career,” said Jackson. “As I was applying for medical school I spent time shadowing physicians in my community, including an ophthalmologist. This initial exposure opened my eyes to the field and experiences in medical school with anatomy, and my clinical rotations solidified my decision to pursue ophthalmology.”
Dr. Jackson is married to Jennifer who grew up in Midland, Texas. She has an MA in Spanish Pedagogy and taught university-level Spanish for two years during graduate school. They have four boys ranging in age from nine months to eight years, so the family schedule includes spending time at basketball and soccer practices and games through the YMCA. Jackson also enjoys shooting hoops and doing woodwork. “I do follow college football and the Thunder, catching highlights whenever I can,” said Jackson.
Dr. Jackson believes futuristic advancement in eye care in the next 10 years will include the following:
Utilizing communication networks and telemedicine to reach millions of people throughout the world who have treatable vision-threatening conditions.
With the genetic factors of multiple eye diseases being discovered and better understood, novel therapies are being developed targeted at specific genes to either reverse or prevent these conditions from happening.
A continued trend toward micro-invasive surgery. Most cataract surgery and glaucoma procedures are being done this way today.
Researchers are now working on a way to reverse age-related lens changes, including cataracts and presbyopia, without surgery. “This would truly be a game changer,” said Jackson. “Imagine if you could have an injection and not only cure your cataract but get rid of the need for reading glasses as well!”
Dr. Jackson’s favorite part of his job is making a difference for people through surgery. “There is nothing like being in the room with someone who could barely see anything before surgery, who can now read after their cataracts have been removed. The gratitude patients have when they are finally pain free after fixing their eyelids or removing a blind painful eye is incredible. These are the types of experiences that make me love this profession,” Jackson said.