Fifty Years of Firsts – Hattiesburg Eye Clinic Brings Vision Care Innovation to South Mississippi

In the early 1970s, a young ophthalmologist arrived in the Pine Belt to establish his eye care practice. Fifty years, nine physicians, an advanced outpatient surgical center and eight clinical locations later, Hattiesburg Eye Clinic has grown to become one of the largest vision care providers in South Mississippi.

The medical staff credits two things responsible for their amazing growth: A commitment to patient-centered, quality care; and a laser focus on bringing the latest vision care innovations to South Mississippi—often being the first to do so.

Early Firsts in Regional Eye Care

The first such milestone occurred in 1973 when Dr. Stoney Williamson performed the first corneal transplant in South Mississippi, less than a year after he had founded Hattiesburg Eye Clinic.

The clinic soon led the way with LASIK, innovative surgeries for correcting near- and far-sightedness and astigmatism. They performed the first such procedure in South Mississippi, followed later by the first iLASIK, a blade-free procedure considered the most accurate for safely correcting poor refraction.

State-of-the-Art Cataract Surgery

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With the dawn of the 21st Century, Hattiesburg Eye Clinic leads the way with advanced treatments for cataracts, the clouding of the eye lens that causes reduced vision.

“Cataracts are something that we all will contend with if we live long enough,” says eye surgeon Todd Williamson. “Cataract surgery depends on when a patient’s cataracts get to the point of interfering with their daily activities.”

Cataract treatment has undergone a revolution over the last generation, as providers move from scalpel-based surgery to automated laser systems for removing and replacing clouded lenses. Hattiesburg Eye Clinic has been at the forefront of this shift as they were the first in Mississippi to offer the CATALYS® Precision Laser, the first system designed exclusively for cataract treatment.

“With CATALYS®, we can remove the old natural lens and replace it with an artificial lens through a series of automated steps,” says eye surgeon David Richardson with Hattiesburg Eye Clinic. “The accuracy of the system increases the chances of not only restoring a person’s lost vision, but making that vision better than before. The CATALYS provides patients the highest quality, least invasive cataract surgery possible.”

Advanced Intraocular Lens Implants

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Hattiesburg Eye Clinic has also been a leader in bringing more advanced intraocular lens implants (IOLs), the replacement lenses for cataracts, to South Mississippi. They were among the first in the nation to offer the TECNIS Symfony® IOL, an extended depth of focus lens providing high-quality vision at near, far or intermediate distances that can relieve some patients of the need to wear glasses.

They were also the first in Mississippi to offer the TECNIS Eyhance™ IOL, a monofocal lens whose unique shape gives it a larger depth of focus. Patients with this lens not only can see at far distances, but may also have clear vision at intermediate distances comparable to watching television or viewing a computer monitor.

Innovative Glaucoma Management

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LASIK and cataract patients aren’t the only ones benefiting from the clinic’s quest for innovation. The last few years have seen a major focus on another leading cause for blindness—glaucoma. Caused by abnormally high eye pressure, glaucoma gradually damages the optic nerve to permanently rob people of their sight.

In this case, a major first comes in the form of a board-certified glaucoma specialist joining the clinic. Dr. Adam Quinn is currently the only full-time, fellowship-trained glaucoma specialist in South Mississippi, bringing the latest methods and expertise for treating this debilitating disease.

“Glaucoma is a major source of vision impairment in the U.S., and growing as the population ages,” says Dr. Quinn. “Fortunately, it’s also an exciting time to treat it. We have a lot of new opportunities to manage it better, both pharmaceutically and surgically.”

Dr. Quinn was the first provider in Mississippi to place a DURYSTA™ implant for time-release medication. Traditionally, the best way to slow the progress of glaucoma has been through medicated drops applied by patients each day to reduce eye pressure. The DURYSTA™ implant automatically releases the pressure-reducing medication, freeing the patient from their daily drop regimen.

iStent is another innovation in glaucoma care that has been introduced at Hattiesburg Eye Clinic. About the size of a letter on a penny, the inserted stent bypasses a defective natural drain to allow built-up fluid to flow out of the eye, and thus reduce pressure. It’s among the many techniques and innovative surgical procedures Hattiesburg Eye Clinic now offers glaucoma patients to better manage their disease.

Vision care continues to progress as new advances appear on the horizon. And, just like the past fifty years, Hattiesburg Eye Clinic will stay focused on bringing to South Mississippi the newest innovations for enhancing eye health.

Visit to learn more about how Hattiesburg Eye Clinic can improve your vision health. You can schedule a consultation online or call 601-268-5910 in Hattiesburg, 601-649-6506 in Laurel (or toll-free 800-624-8254).

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