All Eyes on Columbia

Recruitment efforts help meet region’s vision needs

Frederick Fraunfelder, MD, MBA, performs an eye exam.
Frederick Fraunfelder, MD, MBA, performs an eye exam. Fraunfelder has spearheaded the effort to bring more ophthalmologists
to Columbia to serve more patients.

When it comes to your eyesight, you want eye care specialists you can trust. University of Missouri Health Care’s Mason Eye Institute offers the most advanced eye care in central Missouri. As the mid-Missouri population grows, and the demand for vision care increases, we’re adding new specialists to meet your needs.

“Our community is underserved,” said Frederick Fraunfelder, MD, MBA, director of MU Health Care’s Mason Eye Institute and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the MU School of Medicine. According to Fraunfelder, communities should have one ophthalmologist for every 20,000 people.

Since 2015, Fraunfelder has recruited providers to the MU Health Care eye and vision team. Now, he’s focused on recruiting physicians in high-demand specialties. 

“We are targeting areas where the majority of our patients need care,” Fraunfelder said. “These include providers specializing in retina, glaucoma and cornea issues, as well as general ophthalmologists.” 

Demand for these services is growing — mainly because of an aging population. More and more baby boomers are becoming susceptible to age-related eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration, Fraunfelder said. Additionally, new assisted-living facilities in Columbia are attracting a large number of retirees. 

Although many of Fraunfelder’s recruits will benefit an aging patient population, he also notes another important regional need: a pediatric ophthalmologist. Among Fraunfelder’s many recruits is Mohannad Al-Samarraie, MD, who recently joined the pediatric ophthalmology clinic — the only clinic of its kind in the region.  

Al-Samarraie specializes in surgery to correct amblyopia, or lazy eye. In addition to being able to provide routine care for conditions such as pediatric cataracts, glaucoma, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), and strabismus or crossed eyes, Al-Samarraie also performs surgical procedures. This means pediatric patients don’t have to travel hundreds of miles to get surgery, and they can be treated by one doctor in a location close to home. 

“As one of the largest eye departments in the state, we are excited to add these physicians to our team so we can better meet the needs of our patients,” said Fraunfelder.

“We are targeting areas where the majority of our patients need care. These include providers specializing in retina, glaucoma and cornea issues, as well as general ophthalmologists.”

- Frederick Fraunfelder, MD, MBA