All of our doctors have a story, and we want to share them with you. First in our “Meet the Doctors” series is Dr. Robert Vogel. Dr. Vogel is our retina specialist. He completed his residency at the University of Virginia and received specialty training in the area of retinal and vitreous surgery at the University of Texas in Houston. Dr. Vogel’s expertise includes treating patients with diabetes, macular degeneration, “floaters,” retinal detachments, and other retinal problems using some of the area’s most advanced technology available. When Dr. Vogel isn’t in our office, he’s working in his law office. Yes, Dr. Vogel is also an attorney. In addition to being accomplished in both ophthalmology and law, he also values time with his family and athletic pursuits. Learn more about what makes Dr. Vogel unique below.
What’s one thing you wish every patient knew?
Dr. Vogel: I try to make it obvious, but I care about more than just their eyes. I care about them as a person.
How do you spend your down time?
Dr. Vogel: I put my family and grandkids at the top of my list. I consider them the most important thing in my life. Also, I have a lot of athletic endeavors. Right now, I’m a rower and I do single man skull. I’m a cross country and downhill skier, and a bike rider. I’m remodeling an old cabin. I always have a million things going on. People who know me know that I always stay busy.
What made you want to become an ophthalmologist?
Dr. Vogel: I think that starts with why I wanted to be a physician in the first place. I always kid around and say I was born with a golden stethoscope in my ears. My mom and dad really wanted me to be a physician from early in life. Ultimately, I became a physician because I feel it suits my personality.
I consider myself to be very empathetic, and I really try to relate to who the patient is. For example, my first question when I walk in the room is always “How are you?” I want to know how the person is, my first question is never related directly to their eyes. Their eyes are just a small part of what is going on with them.
Ophthalmologists get to make a big difference in people’s lives, generally in a very positive way. Patients are usually very satisfied with their visits to the eye doctor, and I like that. Cataract surgery and retinal surgery can change someone’s life, quickly and sometimes permanently.
Why did you choose to be a retina specialist?
Dr. Vogel: I don’t know but, I thank God for it. Like I said before, I would not want to be a doctor if I couldn’t be an opthamologist specifically, a retina specialist. I just love retina.
To me, it’s the most creative of the opthamologic specialties. I also like how you see the results of your work quickly. When you repair retinal detachments or take blood out of the eye of a diabetic, you see a lot of changes quickly.
Other surgeons see their patients maybe once a year, I see my retinal patients more often and get to form a relationship with them. To me, the relationship is the most important part of being a doctor. If I didn’t get to know the patients, medicine wouldn’t be as satisfying for me.
What brought you to Piedmont Eye Center?
Dr. Vogel: I did my residency at UVA, and went to Texas to do my retina fellowship for two years. But I love Central Virginia and I knew I wanted to come back. When I was looking, I found several options to come back to the area, including Piedmont Eye Center. One of the best parts of my work life has been that Dr. Lotano and I were able to join together and to grow Piedmont Eye Center into the premiere multi-specialty practice in Central Virginia. This was kind of our dream, to have 8 doctors and a nice building.
What made you want to be a lawyer in addition to being an ophthamologist?
Dr. Vogel: My personality lends itself to being inquisitive and wanting to know a lot about a lot of different things. Also, my wife is an attorney. I did some expert witness work and that really got me interested in the profession. With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, I had some strong feelings about the fact that medicine was going to change in the United States. I really wanted to be up on those changes and be able to help Piedmont Eye Center with the transition. Currently, I have a burgeoning health law practice,write a blog on health law compliance, and teach health law at Liberty University’s medical and law schools. Additionally, I’m trying to keep my hand in health law.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Dr. Vogel: My work is generally successful. People are, for the most part, satisfied with the outcomes. This is kind of rare in medicine. I set expectations appropriately and people are excited to see their eyesight change.