Jamey Osher, MD, 30, says he tried to avoid the unavoidable.
“Everyone always expected that I would become an ophthalmologist, like my dad and grandfather, which is exactly why I resisted,” says the first-year resident in UC’s ophthalmology program. “As I spent time working with other ophthalmologists, I realized that this was the field I was really passionate about.”
Jamey makes the third generation of ophthalmologists—the second associated with UC—who has dedicated his life to the field.
His father, Robert Osher, MD, a professor of ophthalmology at UC and medical director emeritus at the Cincinnati Eye Institute (CEI), has made quite a name for the family in the ophthalmology field as a leader in cataract surgery and as a designer of many contemporary intraocular lenses and instruments that are commonly used.
Going back to 1945, his grandfather, Morris Osher, MD, founded Osher, Kerstine, Faulkner and Cohen, a group of general ophthalmologists known for providing quality care to patients in the Tristate.
Robert was first involved in Cincinnati ophthalmology in 1980 when he decided to spend some time working with his father following the completion of his residency at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, and several fellowships in both Miami and at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia.
“After accompanying my father in the operating room and watching him perform cataract surgery, and then observing the ecstatic patient when the patch came off, I decided what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” he says.
But his “vision” for delivering ophthalmological care in Cincinnati was slightly different than that of his father. “I saw a huge opportunity for a subspecialty group working together under one roof,” he says. “I was no longer interested in being a general ophthalmologist like everyone else. I thought that the highest quality could be attained as a subspecialist performing one procedure all day, every week and all year long.”
And with that thought, both Osher’s career as a cataract surgeon and the Cincinnati Eye Institute were essentially born.
The ‘Jack’ of All Trades Robert Osher’s hard work continues and has brought both national and international attention to Cincinnati ophthalmology.
Most recently in October, Osher was presented with the Kelman Award, the single highest honor given by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, for his advancements in the field of cataract surgery.
Prior to this, he was honored with the American Innovator’s Award and the Binkhorst Award for his work in cataract and intraocular lens surgery from the American society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. He is one of two ophthalmologists to ever win all three awards.
Outside of cataract surgery, he coaches youth baseball and basketball, has been the ophthalmic consultant for the Cincinnati Reds and has published 16 children’s books to help raise money for local and national charities.
And on top of all that, he’s a devoted husband and father of five.
“He’s a workaholic,” says Jamey, chuckling. “But he never missed one of my sporting events.”
Jamey says his father often brought the kids to work with him, introducing them to ophthalmology at an early age. In addition, he took turns bringing each one of them with him to lectures he gave around the world.
Living Life to the Fullest “Understanding the importance of balance is an essential key to a meaningful life,” Robert says. This became clear when roughly five years ago, Robert discovered that he had a pineapple-sized malignant tumor growing in his right kidney.
“Suffocating helplessness set in, and I was overwhelmed with thoughts of my then 6-year-old daughter,” he says. “Who would clean her glasses? Who would protect her? Who would teach her how to catch?”
But just one week after surgery, Robert was back to a full surgery case load and once again traveling the globe to lecture on his trade.
“Since then, I have chosen to see every moment of the day as a gift and a blessing,” he says. “I certainly live every day to the fullest.”
Even with a busy schedule, Osher, 60, makes time for his wife, Barb, and his children, the “Five J’s” (Jamey, Jeff, Jon, Jennifer and Jessica).
The whole family gets together for Sunday night dinner, to catch up on life and enjoy one another. Jamey says he even gets some extra time with dad inside the operating room.
“On days that I’m up at CEI and finish early, I can stop in and see a few patients with him,” he says. “I’ve learned invaluable lessons observing the way he treats each of his patients and their families with nothing but the utmost respect.”
‘Because of Dad’ Jamey, who along with his wife Melissa Lounsbury, a UC law student, is preparing for his second child, says that he chose UC because of his father.
“It’s mainly because of dad, but besides that, the UC ophthalmology program is just stellar. It has grown so much over the years, thanks to the leadership of the chair of the department, James Augsburger, and the outstanding faculty. I’m just happy to be part of a program that is known internationally for its research and quality patient care.”
Jamey has not yet selected his specialty within ophthalmology, but when asked if he thinks his 17-month-old son, Griffin, or his newborn daughter will be the fourth generation of “Osher Ophthal-mologists,” he laughs.
“I think it would be great if my kids followed in my footsteps like I have in my father’s,” he says.
“I can’t think of a more fulfilling, satisfying career choice. However, I’m going to continue to hold out hope that professional golf is somewhere in their future.”