Eye Specialists at Penn Highlands Healthcare Save Sight for Many

February 04, 2016

Having a vision problem is scary. The eye is a small but a very complex organ.

There are physicians who specialize in eye care and eye surgery that daily that work with patients of our region who have cataracts, glaucoma, eye muscle problems, blocked tear ducts, and corneal or eye injuries. They also see patients with macular degenerations, double vision and all diseases of the eye.  

At Penn Highlands Healthcare, they are Dr. John Fabre, Dr. Thomas Smith, Dr. Timothy Marra and Dr. Ryan Bisbey, all of Penn Highlands Healthcare Ophthalmology with offices in Clearfield, Clarion, DuBois and Philipsburg, who perform surgeries at Penn Highlands DuBois, Penn Highlands Clearfield and Clarion Hospital.

There are also Dr. Bonny Beck, ophthalmologist with an office in DuBois, who performs surgeries at PH DuBois and PH Brookville, and Dr. Brett Karlick, an ophthalmologist in St. Marys who performs surgeries at PH Elk and its surgery center.

But there are times that things are even more complex in the eye that a specialist within a specialty is called upon. 

To help patients, Penn Highlands Healthcare has an association with Vitreo-Retinal Consultants of Hermitage. Vitreo-Retinal Consultants is a private practice of ophthalmologists who specialize in treating disorders of the vitreous and retina.

The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye and acts like the film in a camera. It captures visual images and transmits that information to the brain to be seen. The vitreous is a gel-like substance that fills the eye.

Vitreo-retinal surgeons use lasers, surgery and medicines to treat macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, retinal detachment and other disorders of the retina and vitreous.

Beginning in May, Dr. Marc Estafanous, board-certified ophthalmologist and retinal surgeon began seeing patients at 865 Beaver Drive, DuBois. This is also the DuBois office of Penn Highlands Ophthalmology.

Estafanous graduated with honors with a degree in mathematics and psychology from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended medical school at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and completed his residency training in ophthalmology at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He completed his fellowship subspecialty training in vitreo-retinal disorders at the Jules Stein Eye Institute in Los Angeles, California. He has been a valued member of the medical staff at Vitreo-Retinal Consultants since 2003.

What types of issues would a retina specialist see? The following are the common issues that the Vitreo-Retinal Consultants treat. They are:

Retinal detachment - When the retina separates from the wall of the eye, similar to wallpaper being pulled off a wall. 

Diabetic retinopathy - When damage occurs to the blood vessels in the retina as a result of diabetes.  
Floaters- Little specks or cobwebs that float in your field of vision.  If they appear sudden and numerous, it may be a sign of a more serious eye problem. Most of us have floaters that occur over time and are not harmful.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration –A common eye disease associated with aging that can destroy central vision. The macula, the small area in the retina’s very center, gives us our “straight ahead” or “central” vision. ARMC damages the macula and harms central vision. 

Macular Edema - Fluid and protein deposits collect on or under the macula of the eye, the central area of the retina, and causes it to thicken and swell leading to blurry vision. The most common side effect of macular edema is blurry vision. Waviness and distortion may also be noted. In cases where the edema is adjacent to, but not involving the central vision, as in many cases of diabetic edema, there may not be any symptoms. When there are no symptoms, the edema can only be found by routine examination.

Macular Pucker - When an abnormal membrane grows on the surface of the retina and cause wrinkling, or puckering of the retina. Macular pucker is sometimes also referred to as macular fibrosis, or epiretinal membrane.

Retinal Vein Occlusion - Blockages of the blood flow through the veins that take blood away from the retina which may lead to macular edema and blurry vision.

“We are excited about the arrangement we now have with Dr. Marc Estafanous,” said  Smith on behalf of Penn Highlands Ophthalmology. “This new union will have a major impact on our patients as well as other patients in the community. Evaluations and injections are now possible in the DuBois office.”

“It’s great that we have a retinal specialist so close for the patients to alleviate traveling for them,” Karlik said.

“Retinal eye problems affect many people and we are delighted that we are able to provide this service to our patients,” Smith added.

Estafanous see patients in DuBois every other Wednesday. For more information on retina conditions, please visit the Patient Education section of the Vitreo-Retinal Consultants website at or call 1-800-476-3129.