Seeing things as they truly are
By Tyler Francischine
Tampa ophthalmologist T. Hunter Newsom, M.D. ’96, still takes to heart the advice he received during his UF College of Medicine days.
He recalls a lesson from longtime associate dean for student and alumni affairs Hugh M. “Smiley” Hill, M.D., about the three A’s: ability, availability and attitude.
“These three things separate a good doctor from a great doctor,” he says. “All that comes together to make patients happy.”
For 15 years, Newsom has served his patients and worked to perfect techniques for cataract surgery as the founder and medical director of Newsom Eye in the Tampa area. Employing 12 doctors at three offices and three surgery centers in South Tampa, Carrollwood and Sebring, Newsom specializes in glaucoma, cataract and Lasik surgeries. Out of the 3 million cataract surgeries done in the country this year, Newsom estimates he performed 3,000 himself.
In 2011, he performed the first surgeries using the Newsom Bladeless Laser Cataract Surgery Technique, which he invented in order to bring the same speediness and precision of Lasik procedures to cataract surgeries.
“You want to have a standardized procedure, so you can have repeatable results,” he says. “The femtosecond laser cuts the cornea in precise and repeatable ways. We really helped to prove these lasers can be used in cataract surgery.”
Currently, he’s working on innovations within cataract surgery using light-adjustable lenses that help patients see at both close and far distances.
As August is National Eye Exam Month, Newsom offers a few words of warning to those not receiving annual comprehensive exams.
“A lot of people never have an eye exam. Their vision may appear to be normal, but they don’t realize it’s at risk. You need to be checked for conditions like diabetes, glaucoma and other unknown risks,” he says.
Newsom was inspired to pursue a career in ophthalmology after spending time in the operating room with his father, William A. Newsom, M.D., a Gainesville physician who was on the UF College of Medicine faculty from 1970 to 1971. He says his personality fits the field.
“This field is marked by extreme control, steadiness and little room for error,” he says. “It matches my calm and steady personality.”
Newsom is joined at his practice by his wife, Stacy. They have three children together, a 14-year-old daughter and boy/girl twins, who are 11. When he’s not working, he enjoys traveling and playing tennis. He’s also a licensed helicopter pilot, but these diversions don’t distract him from his work.
“I tell patients, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I’d still be doing surgery,” he says. “I love operating and restoring people’s vision.”