HEALTH & MEDICINE SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Timothy Tweito Joins Dr. Frank Venzara III at Florida Retina Specialists
By Maria Sonnenberg // June 28, 2021
New Florida Retina Specialists Location Across From Viera Hospital Set to Open in September
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Dr. Timothy Tweito has fond memories of a very special childhood visit to Brevard.
“As a child we often vacationed in Florida, and one of my fondest childhood memories is my father taking us to see the initial launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia,” said Dr. Tweito, who is back in the area, this time to stay.
“I am so excited to return to the Space Coast to create similar memories with my wife and children.”
Dr. Tweito recently joined the medical staff at Florida Retina Specialists, which has offices in Rockledge, Merritt Island, and very soon, also in Viera.
The Kansas native brings a wealth of experience to a practice already well recognized for its ability to provide state-of-the-art treatment in a courteous and caring environment.
“I consider it a privilege to care for my patients’ vision,” he said.
A board-certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Tweito is also a vitreoretinal specialist, a physician who devotes his career to issues affecting the retina and vitreous, including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment repair, endophthalmitis, uveitis and retinal vascular disease.
“I am drawn to the complexity of the retina and recognize the importance of vision for quality life,” he said.
“Your sight impacts everything you do, and I am fascinated by the depth of knowledge, evolving research and technological advancements in my field.”
After earning his medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine, Dr. Tweito completed an internship in internal medicine at the University of Florida Health/Shands Hospital in Jacksonville before heading to Ohio State University for his ophthalmology residency and vitreoretinal fellowship.
For his work as clinical assistant professor at Ohio State, he was awarded the Makley-Battles Teaching Award. Dr. Tweito was also part of the investigative team in the landmark Lucentis studies on the treatment of wet macular degeneration.
He practiced in Seattle, where he served as one of the team ophthalmologists for the Seattle Supersonics basketball team. He was also part of the faculty at the University of Washington. He subsequently trained ophthalmology residents at Touro University Nevada while in private practice in Las Vegas.
Dr. Tweito is certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the American Society of Retina Specialists, the American Academy of Ophthalmology the Florida Society of Ophthalmology and the Vit-Buckle Society.
Florida Retina Specialists was founded by Merritt Island native Dr. Frank Venzara, III in 2014. Dr. Venzara earned biomedical and medical degrees from the University of Miami.
He conducted research at the prestigious Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami and completed a four-year internship and ophthalmology residency training at Texas A&M Scott & White Eye Institute before joining the Retina Consultants of Alabama fellowship program at UAB Callahan Eye Hospital.
All About Retinas
As the name of the practice explains, Florida Retina Specialists is all about the retina, the wondrous thin layer of tissue that lines the back of the inside of the eye. Located close to the optic nerve, the retina converts the light received by the lens into neural signals that the brain uses for visual recognition. In short, it makes sight possible.
Unfortunately, this miraculous tissue is fragile and prone to problems. That is when Florida Retina Specialists steps in to help.
“We focus on all aspects of the retina,” said Dr. Venzara.
The practice’s mission is to prevent disease progression and preserve vision for individuals with macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and macular holes. Additional treatment options encompass vision problems caused by eye trauma, cataracts, intraocular lens complications and floaters.
Brevard’s significant mature population commonly has to cope with macular degeneration, which typically affects individuals 50 and older and can cause permanent loss of detailed vision.
“In the Space Coast, age-related macular degeneration affects the largest percentage of our patients,” said Dr. Venzara.
Treatment modalities such as intravitreal injections, medication and laser are very effective in the battle against vision loss.
Revolution in Retina Treatment
The prospect of injections into the eye may cause initial squeamishness, but in reality, injections of medications such as Avastin and Eylea are a largely pain-free experience that have revolutionized the treatment of the insidious disease.
“Intraocular eye injections for macular degeneration and severe diabetic retinopathy have greatly improved the vision and quality of life of patients,’ said Dr. Venzara.
Although injections must now be repeated every couple of months, current research points to medications with increased length of effectiveness.
“Just in the past few years, two long-acting intraocular steroid treatments have been approved by the FDA for diabetic bleeding and swelling of the retina,” said Dr. Venzara.
“These long-lasting medications can last up to three years. In the near future, we expect to offer similar long-lasting medication for macular degeneration.”
Macular degeneration is usually age-related, but other retinal issues such as retinal detachments routinely affect younger patients.
Although the specialists have hospital privileges, a large majority of the surgeries are performed as outpatient and in-house.
To accurately assess retinal issues, Florida Retina Specialists depends on cutting-edge diagnostic technology such as the Heidelberg Spectralis OCT retinal imaging system and the Iridex Laser System with micropulse technology.
“Recent advancements in diagnostics and surgical equipment have resulted in improved surgical time, safety and outcomes,” said Dr. Venzara.
Annoying Eye Floaters
Although not as serious as macular degeneration, floaters, pieces of vitreous debris, can be more than annoying.
They can become so dense as to impact visual acuity. Some disease processes can cause hemorrhaging within the vitreous gel of the eye as well. Florida Retina Specialists offers vitrectomy surgery to remove vitreous opacities and floaters.
“It is a simple outpatient surgical procedure performed with vitrectomy in less than half an hour. Some of our happiest patients are those that have their floaters removed. In some cases patients have been bothered by their vision for decades prior to having vitrectomy surgery,” says Dr. Venzara.
Not that long ago, this type of surgery was not readily done due to lack of adequate instrumentation.
“With older technology, it was considered too invasive and risky to remove vitreous debris,” said Dr. Venzara. “This has changed greatly with the advancement of small gauge suture-less surgical equipment and technology.”
With small gauge instruments and cut rates three-times faster than a decade ago, vitreous floaters can be removed in a safe, predictable fashion.
September in Viera
Viera residents will be able to conveniently access Florida Retina Specialists services in their own backyard when the practice opens its new location at Viera Medical Park across from Viera Hospital.
With completion anticipated in September, the new 5,000-square-foot Viera office marks the third location for Florida Retina Specialists.
“Many of our patients and many of our referring doctors are from the Viera area, so we wanted to make it as convenient as possible for them,” said Dr. Frank Venzara III.
By combining compassionate healing with the latest technology and treatment modalities at offices never too far from patients’ homes, Florida Retina Specialists is the go-to practice for whatever can affect the retina.
“Our goal is to provide the highest quality retina care to our patients, along with a humble-servant attitude,” said Dr. Venzara.
Florida Retina Specialists currently has offices at 280 N. Sykes Creek Pkwy, Suite B, Merritt Island, and at 1978 U.S. Hwy 1, Suite 105, Rockledge. For more information, visit FloridaRetinaSpecialists.com or call 321-735-8800.