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Focus Stories

Florida Retina Institute

by Jill Cousins

Featured Photo from Florida Retina Institute

Some doctors may prefer keeping their profession separate from their personal lives, but that’s not the case with the physicians at Florida Retina Institute (FRI). Most of the doctors who work out of FRI’s Lake Mary office – located on Primera Boulevard, next to the Tax Collector’s office – live in the Longwood/Lake Mary area, and they actually like having that sense of community both in and out of the office.

“We love living in Lake Mary,” says Elias C. Mavrofrides, MD, who lives here with his wife and four of his five children. “I’ve lived in Lake Mary since 2004, and lots of times we run into patients when we’re out doing things. You really do get that community feel because so many of the people you’re taking care of are people you know. I think it’s a good thing.”

Thomas A. Barnard, MD, who has been with the practice since 1998, also enjoys the close proximity between where he lives and where he works.

“I enjoy living and working in the same area,” says Dr. Barnard, who resides in Lake Mary with his wife and three children, “because I am able to be more available for patients, especially if any emergencies should arise.”

Matthew A. Cunningham, MD, who joined the practice in 2013, lives in Lake Mary with his wife and two children.

“I love it,” Dr. Cunningham says, “I actually think it’s really neat when I’m at Publix or Home Depot and a patient runs into me and says hello. Some of my neighbors are actually patients of mine.”

Jaya B. Kumar, MD, is the newest addition to FRI’s Lake Mary office. She lives in Winter Park but enjoys working in Lake Mary because the city reminds her of where she trained in St. Louis, Missouri.

“I really enjoy it here,” says Dr. Kumar, who joined the practice this past August. “Florida Retina Institute is the leading group of surgeons to offer retinal surgery with a cutting-edge visualization system called NGENUITY. This novel technology allows our surgeons to operate while looking at a large, high-definition, 3D screen instead of a small microscope.”

“On one hand, we have some of the best retina specialists you’ll find anywhere,” Dr. Mavrofrides says. “Our doctors have trained at some of the most prestigious institutions in the world including the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, the University of Iowa, the Wills Eye Hospital, Duke, the Cleveland Clinic, and Baylor. But we also have a great group of people who truly care about their patients.”

“One of the biggest things that makes Florida Retina Institute a special place is the fact that you’re treated as more than just a name or a number,” adds Dr. Cunningham. “We want to know you as a person, we want to know your story, and we want to take care of your condition.”

James A. Staman, MD, founded Florida Retina Institute in 1979, and the practice now has 19 offices from Kissimmee to South Georgia. The Lake Mary office is the only one in Seminole County. The physicians deal specifically with vitreo-retinal problems, including macular degeneration (the leading cause of vision loss in people over age 60), diabetic retinopathy, and retinal detachment.

FRI’s physicians use the latest in state-of-the-art technology to quickly diagnose and treat patients of all ages.

“Not every person, but many people will have retinal issues at some point in their lives,” Dr. Mavrofrides says. 

“FRI is heavily active in research, and we strive to bring the latest, cutting-edge treatments and technology to our patients,” says Dr. Steve Houston. “We have offices throughout Central Florida, including Lake Mary, in order to provide excellent care with the latest technologies and treatments outside of a central city location. We want to bring our care as close to patients as possible.”

As Dr. Cunningham explains, the retina is like the film in a camera, and when there’s a problem with that film, it’s not always a simple fix. But FRI’s patients can rest assured that they are in the best of hands when it comes to the delicate problems involving the retina.

“A lot of our patients come to us scared and as emergencies,” Dr. Cunningham says. “It’s our job to calm their fears and try to help them regain as much vision as possible.”

Florida Retina Institute has been doing that for nearly 40 years and is a leader in providing the best treatments and surgery for vitreo-retinal diseases and conditions.

“The advancements that have been made are tremendous,” Dr. Barnard says. “New research [and] the latest advances in treatments and care have allowed us to offer the very best individual treatment plans for our patients.”


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