Glaucoma? Meet VA doctor working to improve vision

Dr. Mary Lynch receives Innovator Award for work that benefits Veterans


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Many Veterans with glaucoma have benefited from the pioneering work of Dr. Mary Lynch of the Atlanta VA medical center.

During her career, Lynch’s research has centered on innovative ways to deal with difficult problems in glaucoma.

(You may have to fire up your favorite search engine to understand…and appreciate…her remarkable achievements. There’s also a link to a video in this story which tells the story of her innovations…also in medical terminology…but very impressive!)

She wrote the first paper describing central nervous system side effects from beta-blocker eye drops. Her observations led her to work on the development of dropper tips that could produce smaller eye drops. This work has been incorporated into current dropper tip designs.

She also wrote the first paper describing the surgical treatment of pseudophakic malignant glaucoma: the creation of the unicameral eye that still is the basic principal of malignant glaucoma treatment.

Lynch also wrote the first paper describing the 360-degree suture trabeculotomy to treat congenital glaucoma. This option had a much higher success rate than other protocols and gave children a higher chance of achieving normal vision. The 360-degree trabeculotomy technique now has been expanded to include adults with glaucoma, including Veterans.


Dr. Mary Lynch

Dr. Mary Lynch


The American Glaucoma Society has named Lynch the 2019 recipient of the society’s prestigious Innovator Award. The award is given to one physician each year in recognition of his or her contributions to the field of glaucoma.

She is the first woman to receive this award.

In 1999, Lynch developed the EyePass in collaboration with her husband. The EyePass was the first trabecular bypass device for glaucoma and initiated a new category of glaucoma surgery: minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS). Last year, nearly 1500 Veterans received MIGS glaucoma surgery based on the pioneering work of Dr. Lynch.

As a physician with the Atlanta VA Medical Center, Lynch has a strong interest in improving eye care delivery and enhancing other aspects of life for aging Veterans who have poor vision.

Lynch is a professor of ophthalmology at Emory University School of Medicine/Emory Eye Center. She joined Emory and the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 1988.

“My husband, Reay Brown, and I were recruited to the Emory Eye Clinic in 1988 to run the glaucoma service,” Lynch says. “We were drawn to Emory’s rich tradition of clinical and bench research, the teaching opportunities afforded by Grady and VA, and the outstanding and collegial faculty.”

This video describes her distinguished career and achievements.

“Initially, I thought working at VA would be a temporary move and that I would return to Emory once the girls were grown,” Lynch says. “But VA proved to be a wonderful place to work with very grateful patients. Over time I was able to build up one of the largest sections in the hospital and expand the residency training program. I also became involved in national committees and was able to launch a number of innovative programs.”


Six members of a doctor’s family

(Left to right): Dr. Victoria Schneider, (sister), Dr. Reay Brown (husband), Dr. Mary Lynch), Annie Brown (daughter), Veronica Huttman (daughter), Kathleen Hersey (daughter)


She also established a foundation in memory of her daughter, Madeleine Jude Brown, who passed away in 2006. The MJB Foundation provides a four-year college scholarship to one or two high school students from Atlanta each year. As president of the foundation, Lynch has thus far mentored 12 students through their college journey.

The Emory Eye Center is obviously very proud of her honor.

Dr. Allen Beck, interim chair of ophthalmology and interim director of the Emory Eye Center:

“I will always remember her saying ‘We are making history!’ whenever we were performing circumferential trabeculotomy surgery. Congratulations to Mary for this outstanding award and her years of service to Emory and VA.”

Author

Hans Petersen

Hans Petersen is senior writer-editor for Digital Media, VHA Office of Communications. An Air Force Veteran, Hans also served two years in the Peace Corps and worked for 20 years in broadcasting before joining VA.

Comments

  1. Lawrence C Dudash    

    I have glaucoma both eyes and the right is nearly blind and I’d Love to hear more about the Doctors recommendations as to what drops or procedures I should pursue.
    I am a Vet that goes to the Dallas VA and have an Optomologist thru the VA’s Choice Program.
    Thanks
    Lawrence Dudash

  2. Arnold Cabral    

    Disabled Veterans is 100 percent service connected should have a right to go any choice of Medical Centers they want too so email your Senators or Representative contract the Veteran Affairs Committee passed a new Benefit Law.

  3. Lawrence C. Gallant    

    I am a vet with glaucoma. How do I get in touch with her?

  4. Steven mcCleaf    

    I may need housing. I have bad knees and my wife is an acholic. I live in Cape Coral Fl. Help

  5. Steven mcCleaf    

    I can’t even get an appointment until September and they won’t allow me to visit a doctor off the VA campus Why

  6. Robert Morton Daniels    

    I have been diagnosed with high pressure in my left eye (22). I currently put 1 Drop of (lumingan) in my left eye at bed time. I will see my Doctor again in Oct at the Bay Pines Facility in St Petersburg, FL. What help is available for me in the future? Thank You.

  7. William J. McClain    

    How do I ask my VA providers about new treatments for glaucoma?

  8. William J. McClain    

    I am veteran with glaucoma. May I ask my VA providers about current treatments for glaucoma? Will my VA providers have any answers about any new treatments for glaucoma. I want to get all the information I possibly can about this disease.

  9. Dorothy J Foulk    

    I have glaucoma. It slowly is deteriorating my vision. It is good to know that there is work being done in this field. I am the wife of a veteran and have seen the great care given to my husband. We are very thankful to have access to his care.

  10. Louis A Bajkai    

    I need my eyes examined for glaucoma.

  11. ELIHIO RIVERA    

    I NEEDVYR HELP.I I HAVE HADLA COMMA FOR 16 YREARS .I AM 68 YRS OIL.HERE IN THE FAMILY I AM JUST A NUMBER.I SEE A VA DOCTER EVERY 6 MONTHS BUT OF NO HELP. BLLOD WORK AND M9667 EDICATION. HOW MUCH WOULD IT COST ME TO SEE U DOCTER. CANT WALK ETC ETC.
    (SSN redacted) ELIGIO RIVERA

  12. Betty Royalston-Scott    

    I have glaucoma. How can I benefit from Dr Lynch’s MIGS here in NC?

  13. Walter Kingsley    

    What is glaucoma and what is the cause of it?

    1. Robert Morton Daniels    

      I have been diagnosed with high pressure in my left eye (22). I currently put 1 Drop of (lumingan) in my left eye at bed time. I will see my Doctor again in Oct at the Bay Pines Facility in St Petersburg, FL. What help is available for me in the future? Thank You.

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