Q&A: Top Doctor Tony Huynh Helps People See the Path to Eye Health

One of Seattle's top doctors shares insight on the patient behavior he wishes he could change
SEEING CLEARLY: The impact of some serious eye diseases, like diabetic retinopathy, can be minimized with early detection, says ophthamologist Dr. Tony Huynh

This article appears in print in the April 2019 issue, as part of the Top Doctors cover story. Click here to subscribe.

Why did you decide to become a doctor?
I began considering a career in medicine when two of my older sisters went into medicine, and I saw how gratifying it was for them. As I increased my exposure to the medical field, I realized that is what I wanted to do. It allows me to use my interest in science and apply it in helping people.

Why did you choose this specialty?
When I became curious about ophthalmology in medical school, I was paired with a great mentor who really got me excited with the field. That luck continued throughout my medical training by having inspirational mentors during my residency and fellowship who shaped my career path.

What eye diseases or conditions are most preventable?
Common retinal conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, retinal vascular occlusions and diabetic retinopathy [all of which can lead to reduced vision or loss of vision] may not be able to be prevented, but the risks of developing them can be lowered. Taking steps such as managing your blood pressure, cholesterol and your blood sugars, if you are diabetic, can have a profound positive effect in decreasing your odds of developing serious retinal diseases later in life.

What are some of the most interesting/exciting developments in your field?
Over the past few years, treatments for various retinal conditions have moved away from surgical interventions and towards less invasive ones with less risk to patients. Also, with newer technologies that are coming out and being developed, retina specialists are becoming increasingly able to detect retinal diseases much earlier. This early detection makes these conditions even more amenable to less invasive medical therapies.

What’s the biggest misconception people have about what you do?
Many people think that any eye problem can be fixed with either surgery or medication. While that is true some of the time, there are conditions that can lead to irreversible damage if not detected and treated early.

Is there a patient behavior that you wish you could change?
Like most medical conditions, retinal conditions are best treated by prevention and early detection. I would urge people to get their eyes checked on a routine basis to help maintain their eye health and vision rather than wait until a problem arises to seek help.

What’s the most fun—outside of medicine—that you’ve recently had?  
My wife and I recently added two puppies to our family, so it has been quite an interesting adventure keeping up with them! 

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