BLS Featured CMLSO: Damien Luviano
1. Who are you?
My name is Damien Luviano, and from the age of 10, I have been captivated by medicine, science and technology.
2. What is your educational background?
I am an ophthalmologist, in other words an eye physician and surgeon. I concentrate in treating patients with diabetic retinopathy, which is diabetes damage to the eyes. My education began at the Dr. Michael Debakey High School for Health Professions in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, TX where my goals to become a doctor were intensified and supported.After high school, I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelors of Arts and a major in biology. Next, I completed medical school in Dallas, TX at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. After medical school, a physician must complete a one year internship and several years of residency in order to practice medicine. I chose a one year general surgery internship, and a 3 year residency in ophthalmology. The last step in a medical career is to become board certified. In my field, the ophthalmologist must take and pass 2 exams, a written exam and an oral examination to gain board certification status.
3. Where do you work?
I work as an ophthalmologist in Texas for Southeast Texas Medical Associates. I provide comprehensive eye care to our patients.
In addition, I am a journal reviewer for the Ophthalmic Surgery Lasers & Imaging Retina Journal, where I am a peer reviewer of submitted journal articles prior to publication.
I am also the senior editor for the comprehensive section for the American Academy of Ophthalmology Online News and Education section. This position allows me to select journal articles and influence the content of education for this organization of over 20,000 members.
As mentioned earlier, once ophthalmologists have completed their training, they must take a written and oral examination to become board certified. I also teach courses in optics and retina to prepare these young surgeons for examination and board review.
4. When did you start working with lasers?/ How long have you worked with lasers?
In 2009, I was asked by the senior management at the Medical Center to take over the Laser Safety program because of my excellent record in running the ionizing radiation program. My first laser experience occurred as a teenager building a laser pointing device from a mail order kit. My first experience in using a laser for surgery occurred in my ophthalmology residency program. Argon lasers were used to treat diabetic retinopathy by coagulating the retina, and YAG Lasers to perforate the iris in acute angle closure glaucoma. I fell in love with the treatment of diabetic retinopathy with lasers because it is a clean, painless, and effective surgery. Because the laser treatment area is inside the eye, no plume is generated and no risk of infection is generated to the patient or surgeon.
5. How did you become the MLSO?
When I was asked to take over the Laser Safety Program, initially I felt a little bit outside of my comfort zone. I became a MLSO when our medical practice was in need of a MLSO not just for the ophthalmology clinic, but for future medical specialties that may employ lasers. I took online courses and independent reading to prepare for the written examination for the Board of Laser Safety exam.
6. Do you like being the MLSO?/Challenges of “today’s” MLSO?
I enjoy being the MLSO at my institution because it provides interesting challenges every day. I enjoy being a MLSO because it allows me to teach laser safety to staff, join the Laser community, and it allows me to contribute to the Board of Laser Safety and to ANSI.
Patient and staff safety is paramount. Safety is now considered more important than in years past. For example, national boards are now teaching and enforcing safety protocols that include operating on the correct patient and correct body part. Other safety issues that are improving is the enforcement of state laws created to ensure equipment is maintained and personnel is kept up to date with current laser safety standards.
7. How has becoming certified helped/benefited you in your career?
As a certified MLSO, I provide expertise to the Medical Center for the better protection of staff and patients. Becoming certified has allowed me to be the MLSO for our clinic and allowed for a simpler process applying for a LASER certificate from our state. Being the MLSO for our own clinic, allows me to immediately integrate change to improve safety of our staff and patients. As a certified MLSO, I am able to provide evidence to the staff, patients, state officials, and regulatory agencies that we are indeed qualified to use lasers in our medical practice. I expect to see other benefits to my career from this certification in the new future.