Starting this month, area residents with retinal problems requiring surgery will no longer need to travel to Washington or Baltimore to receive specialized eye care.

Dr. David Watt, staff physician at the Anne Arundel Medical Center and clinical instructor in ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School, specializes in vitreoretinal surgery -- a sub-specialty of ophthalmology dealing with diseased and damaged retinas.


The Medical Center recently purchased the necessary equipment to perform more extensive and complicated retinal operations.

"Many of the patients," Watt said, "will seek treatment for one of the following reasons: retinal detachments, post-surgical complications, work and sports-related injuries and diabetic complications in the eye."


In its more severe stages, diabetes can lead to bleeding and development of scar tissue in the eye.

In addition to Vitreoretinal, laser and retinal detachment surgery also will be offered at the center.

"I'm very excited about offering this program in Annapolis," saidthe 32 year-old Watt, a 1980 Dartmouth honors graduate who received his medical degree from the Northwestern (Ill.) School of Medicine. "I'm looking forward to providing full retinal surgery services to this region. A lot of people in the area will be happy that they won't have to go to Johns Hopkins or Georgetown University Hospital to receive treatment."

Watt, who moved his four-year-old practice from Chicago to Annapolis in August, has quickly built a reputation in the area as a friendly and efficient ophthalmologist who goes through greatpains to explain and counsel his patients. His clients have come from Delaware, Washington, and the Eastern Shore.

Last October, whileRobert Ward was working on the roof of his Edgewater home, a piece of wood penetrated his eye. After receiving emergency treatment at Anne Arundel General, Watt sewed the eye together after removing the wood and treating the infection.

"Dr. Watt was a Godsend," said Robert's wife, Robin. "In this day and age, you don't find too many doctor's like him. He kept us abreast of everything that was going on. He watched his condition throughout his stay (five days). He even called me at work to check on Bobby."

"Last fall, the corner of my retinahad come loose," said one Grasonville patient who was suffering froma ruptured blood vessel in the eye. "Dr. Watt re-attached it with the laser, stopping the leakage of blood, and removed the blood from inside my eye.

"There was no pain whatsoever," said the patient, whoasked that his name not be used. "In fact, I had a conversation withthe anesthesiologist and the doctor while the surgery took place. I got to see them actually flashing the laser in my eye. I wouldn't hesitate going through it again."



Opened: 1902 as Annapolis Emergency Hospital (renamed Anne Arundel General Hospital in 1947 and Anne Arundel Medical Center in 1989)

Address: Franklin and Cathedral streets, Annapolis

Phone: 267-1000 (main switchboard).

Number of beds: 303

Services available: 24-hour emergency room, outpatient surgery, maternity unit, oncology center, health education center, radiological and MRI center, walk-in health centers, state-of-the-art cardiac-care treatment facility, home healthcare, hospice program, blood bank, ICU, psychiatric unit, Tel-Med, Life-Line.