Gary M. Lazarus O.D., PhD., F.A.A.O.
Beyond offering vision testing in Manhattan Beach, CA, Dr. Gary Lazarus has a broad and storied history of driving innovation in the field of optometry.
Dr. Lazarus if one of a handful of doctors in the world who has reshaped corneas with a rigid gas permeable contact lens to improve distance vision. The procedure is called Orthokeratology, Corneal Refractive Therapy, or Corneal Molding. The goal is to control or prevent myopia (nearsightedness). This technique originated hundreds of years ago when the Chinese put sandbags on their eyes before they went to sleep. The weight of the sandbags on the eyes flattened the corneas. Upon awakening the next morning, these individuals could see an improvement in their vision. This contact lens procedure is only temporary unless the patient continues to wear the rigid gas permeable contact lenses over approximately a 2 year period of at least 8-10 hours per day with periodic doctor evaluations. At the end of this period, the patient is seen for a final evaluation before retainer lenses can be worn. We recommend that the retainer lenses be worn during the day so as to prevent nocturnal corneal hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the cornea) while sleeping when the lids are closed.
By wearing a retainer lens the desired corneal curvature can be maintained. Hence better vision will be achieved.
Dr. Lazarus also showed by modifying the parameters of the contact lens curvature this program can also treat hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. Of the many successful patients seen by Dr. Lazarus, one ultimately became a NASA astronaut.
This reshaping procedure of corneal curvature preceded the invention of refractive surgery (excimer laser and lasik) by approximately 20 years. Because refractive surgery is not approved for young patients under the age of 20 due to a lack of complete eye development, orthokeratology is a recommended procedure for myopic (nearsighted) patients who are in this age bracket. Refractive surgery is the surgical analog to orthokeratology since both techniques flatten the corneal curvature to improve acuity in myopia.
Besides reshaping corneal curvature through orthokeratology, Dr. Lazarus was a cosmetic-cinematic contact lens consultant to Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank. An example of this special effect technique using cosmetic hard contact lenses can be seen the 1971 film “The Omega Man” starring Charlton Heston.
Dr. Lazarus has also had a longstanding interest in cataract and laser/lasik refractive eye surgery, as well as an interest in systemic disease and the eye. He has been trained extensively over the last 30 years in the diagnosis and management of macular degeneration, diabetic and hypertensive retinopathy, retina-vitreal interface disease, glaucoma and neuro-ophthalmic disease. In 2011, Dr. Lazarus completed a certification in the Diagnosis, Treatment and Management of Open Angle Glaucoma.
In addition to his many interests in neuro-ophthalmic disease, electrophysiology of vision and ophthalmic medicine, Dr. Lazarus received a certification in Aviation Vision from the American Optometric Association. This certification enables him to perform the vision examination for the FAA pilot’s physical evaluation. This area is related to his research interests in aerospace medicine and physiology. Dr. Lazarus is a member of the Aerospace Medical Association.
Publications and Research
Dr. Lazarus has served on two different journal editorial boards as editor of neuro-ophthalmic disease; i.e. “American Journal of Optometric Medicine” and “Optometry Clinics”. In addition, he has been a lecturer and author in the field of neuro-ophthalmic disease and electrophysiology of vision for decades. Dr. Lazarus is a member of the North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society, the International Society of Clinical Electrophysiology of Vision and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
In 1974, Dr. Lazarus’ first publication was featured in the Journal of the American Optometric Association; i.e. “The Visual Evoked Potential, its Clinical Significance in the Diagnosis of Neuro-Ophthalmic Pathology” a 4 part treatise. It was the first paper published on this topic in optometric literature. Dr. Lazarus received international acclaim from optometry, ophthalmology and neurology.
Besides publishing articles, book reviews, and journal abstracts on neuro-ophthalmic disease and electrophysiology of vision, Dr. Lazarus did a research fellowship in pediatric neuro-ophthalmology at UCLA in the mid 60s. The research dealt with the measurement of electro-oculography in infants with cerebral palsy.
Impact on the Field of Optometry
Dr. Lazarus is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and Diplomate of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry. He is a long standing member of the American Optometric Association and its state and local societies. Dr. Lazarus is also a founding member of the American Optometric Society.
He is a senior member of the attending optometry staff of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center since 1971 and is currently serving as recording secretary. Dr. Lazarus is also pre-optometry advisor to UCLA. He has a certification as an HMO Consultant from the Health Administration Division of the Graduate School of Public Health at UCLA. Based on his HMO health administrative training, Dr. Lazarus also founded Satellite Vision Services Inc. in 1983, and eye care PPO for Union and Industry.
In 1973, Dr. Lazarus became a co-founder of the Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation in Beverly Hills, as well as its spokesperson and low vision research chairperson. He did many radio, television and telethon guest interviews and was later succeeded by Charlton Heston.
A native of Los Angeles, Dr. Lazarus has practiced in Manhattan Beach, CA since 1975. During that time, he was sponsored by the South Bay Free Clinic and the Kiwanis Club to conduct pediatric and geriatric eye screening programs.
In 1984, Dr. Lazarus received the Continuing Education Award from Southern California College of Optometry. Later he received the Ronald Reagan Gold Medal for Healthcare in both 2004 and 2005. He was also honored in 2005 by the Eye Birth Defects Foundation for 34 years of service as a Staff Eye Doctor at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Memberships and Associations
- Pre-Optometry Advisor to UCLA
- Lecturer and Author on Neuro-Ophthalmic Disease and Electrophysiology of Vision
- Editor Neuro-Ophthalmic Disease for “American Journal of Optometric Medicine” and “Optometry Clinics”
- Center for the Partially Sighted – Support Group (Member)
- North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society (Member)
- The Association for Research in Vision & Ophthalmology (Member)
- Research Fellowship in Pediatric Neuro-Ophthalmology at UCLA
- Ophthalmic Consultant to Medical Board of California Jazz Foundation
- Cinematic Special Effects Contact Lens Consultant – Warner Bros. Studio
- National Board of Optometry (Diplomate)
- Satellite Vision Service Inc. – An Eye Care PPO for Unions & Industry (Founder & CEO)
- American Academy of Optometry (Fellow)
- Royal Society of Health-London (Fellow)
- Royal Society of Medicine-London (Fellow)
- Societe de Oftalmologia y Optometria-Bogota (Fellow)
- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Optometry Staff, Los Angeles
- International Society of Eye Imaging (Member)
- British Contact Lens Association (Member)
- Aerospace Medical Association (Member)
- International Society for Clinical Electrophysiology of Vision (Member)
- International Society for Refractive Surgery (Member)
- Society for Neuroscience (Member)
- International Brain Research Organization (Member)
- American Diabetes Association (Member)
Awards and Recognition
- Co-Founder of the Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation
- Reagan Gold Medal Award for Health Care (2004 & 2005)
- Continuing Education Award at Southern California College of Optometry (1984)
- Senior Member of Attending Optometry Staff-Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
- Honored by Eye Birth Defects Research Foundation for 34 Years of Service as a Staff Eye Doctor at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (2005)
- Endorsements from UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute, Association for Research in Vision & Ophthalmology, Veterans Administration Hospital Department of Optometry, West Los Angeles
Education and Training
- UCLA (BA Psychology, minors in Chemistry, Zoology and Music)
- Southern California College of Optometry (BS Visual Physiology, O.D. Optometry Doctorate)
Pacific Western University (MS Neurophysiology of Vision, minor in Neuro-Psychology)
- Masters Training-UCLA Dept of Neuroanatomy, Neurophysiology and Brain Research Institute
Pacific Western University (PhD-Clinical Investigation of Neuro-Ophthalmic Disease and Neuro-Ophthalmic Science)
- PhD Training-Dept of Neurology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; Division of Neuro-Ophthamology, USC Doheny Eye Institute