ON THE JOB: Their vision is to save your sight

PERKINS TWP. Giving sight to those at risk of going blind has given new focus to the life of a Toled
Annie Zelm
May 24, 2010



Giving sight to those at risk of going blind has given new focus to the life of a Toledo-based physician.

By 9 a.m. on a recent Friday, Dr. Ira Orgel already has more than 40 patients on his schedule -- and it's considered an average workload.

"We typically see between 30 to 50 patients a day," Orgel, 47, said as he consulted his chart at Retina Vitreous Associates, 1617 W. Bogart Road.

He is one of nine physicians in the Northwest Ohio practice who are trained to diagnose and treat problems with the inside and back of the eye.

One of the most common diseases he treats is macular degeneration, a condition that damages the structure of the eye responsible for vision.

This causes blurring and makes it difficult for patients to read, drive and recognize familiar faces.

Other problems include retinal detachment -- which occurs when the retina separates from the back of the eye and causes flashes of light and floaters -- as well as macular holes and diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy results in leakage of fluid into the retina and swelling, which results in a loss of vision.

Orgel begins each visit by examining a patient's vision and noting any changes, as well as gauging sensitivity to light and looking for other patterns.

Bob Kihlken of Lakeview said he started seeing Orgel more than two years ago with a swollen retina he developed because of diabetes. His vision regressed to 20/40 at its worst -- meaning, roughly, he could see as well at 20 feet as a person with normal vision could see at 40 feet.

Since he started visiting Orgel's office every few months, his sight has progressed back to almost 20/20 -- normal vision.

Orgel, who has worked between offices in Sandusky and Toledo since 1991, said seeing this progress is the most rewarding aspect of his work.

"Saving sight -- having the ability to bring back vision, the ability to drive -- certainly is fulfilling," he said.

He and his fellow physicians are also active in research and clinical trials designed to improve sight using injected drugs rather than laser treatment.

Administrator Vicki Hostetter, who works closely with Orgel at Retina Vitreous Associates in Toledo, described him as a hard worker with extensive knowledge in the field.

"People fear blindness more than anything," she said. "He does his part to prevent blindness, stabilize their sight and give them a better quality of life."

Orgel lives in Toledo with his wife, Beth, a registered nurse. They have two sons -- Greg, a freshman in college, and Matt, who attends Ottawa Hills High School in surburban Toledo.