Since its founding in 1981 by ophthalmologist Dr. Russell E. Swann, Brazos Eye Surgery of Texas has fulfilled its mission to “Provide clearer choices for clearer vision” by utilizing the most advanced cutting-edge technology in LASIK and a wide variety of eye-disease treatment for glaucoma and eye injuries.
Over those 38 years, Brazos Eye Surgery has helped tens of thousands of people enjoy the benefits of today’s advanced cataract surgery with quick recovery, no patches or stitches and “high-definition” vision with reduced or eliminated dependency on glasses.
“We are the most technologically advanced practice in Central Texas, specializing in the greatest intraocular surgeries in the country,” says Dr. Swann’s son and Brazos Eye surgeon Beau Swann. “We have things here that the largest cities don’t, like ICL (intraocular colamer lenses) and PRK (photo refractive keratectomy), both designed to get people out of glasses and improve their vision.”
At present, his most common procedure is femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery (FLACS) with new ones already in place. Brazos Eye Surgery will be the first eye center to do refractive touchups surgery (one of only two centers in the country) and even performed the procedure on one of the first three patients in mid-April at the Fish Pond Surgery Center.
Forced to give up eye surgery due to cancer in 2009, the elder Dr. Swann brought his son into the practice soon afterward, albeit not as easily as it sounds. In fact, following his father’s vocation was far down Beau’s list when he was younger.
“It’s a funny story because after graduating from Midway in 2001, the last thing I wanted to be was an eye doctor,” Beau said with a laugh. “I wanted to do artificial knees and hips, so I took anatomy and physiology with applied calculus. Even when I decided to be an eye doc, I determined not to be an ophthalmologist just because my dad was, but later in med school, I did some operations and found that I really enjoyed it.”
After his residency, he worked 14 years in New Orleans and another at a cornea refractive and dry eye fellowship at Largo, Florida, near Tampa before returning to Waco.
“I had better offers in Florida and San Francisco,” Beau Swann said, “but knew this practice was my mom and dad’s baby and needed help. It was a family decision.”
Both Swanns graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans and bring a lengthy list of awards and honors to the office.
Russell Swann’s accolades include a commendation medal in the U.S. Army as a flight surgeon, Best Doctors in America (1996-97, 2001-18) recognition and a nomination for America’s Best Physicians (’18).
Beau Swann received college departmental honors in biomedical engineering, a C.S. O’Brian Professorship Award winner for research, and the Bloomberg Resident Surgical Award from the American College of Eye Surgeons.
With both doctors having the same last name sometimes patients can be a little confused, but the age difference usually clears things up.
“All the time, they’ll say I want the young or old one, or they’ll come in and say, ‘You’re not my doctor!’ ” the “young” Swann said. “I’ll play along by saying, ‘Yeah, I went to Ponce de Leon’s fountain of youth’ and that really shakes them up.”
Running the practice has been a family effort. Russell’s wife, Renee, had been the practice’s administrator until her retirement this spring. That will allow more time for her and Russell to travel and visit their three other sons and families who live in other cities. Beau’s grandmother, Mary Lee Presley, was his father’s first receptionist, while his grandfather, Clark Presley, was a bank officer who owned the Pearle Vision Center of Waco.
Dividing patients between the two Swanns is actually relatively simple, Beau Swann said.
“If it’s medical, dad is the most experienced ophthalmologist around, but if it’s surgical, it comes to me,” he said.
The two team up with three receptionists working the front desk, 10 technicians and two optics staff to provide patients a complete line of individualized and customized visual needs by taking into account current health issues, eyeglass prescriptions, specific lifestyles and interests.
The Swanns in turn consider all these factors to determine the best treatment plan while specializing in the most minimally invasive technique in the country, with the smallest incisions possible.
Although the older physician still enjoys working three full days a week, his wife Renee retired this spring and helped bring in her replacement as executive director, Lubbock native Houston Landry. He’s a self-proclaimed Army brat who has lived in 13 cities and three countries, earned a bachelor’s degree at Texas Tech and has a master’s in administration from Central Michigan.
“I met Beau at a February conference in Cancun, and we clicked right away and bonded over sun, sports and a mutual passion for growing a business,” Landry said. “He was looking for someone to help him move the practice from good to great, and I had been fortunate enough to have been working for a practice where I was able to do that. It was a great personality and vision match for us both.”
While the new director likes to keep in shape off the job by being a “fitness junkie,” racing 10Ks, half-marathons and triathlons, Beau enjoys sailing on Lake Waco, is an accomplished snow skier, and likes to travel, whether it’s visiting friends all over the country or taking annual mission trips to Mexico.
“Every year, I do medical work in Mexico (usually Cordoba) pro bono, seeing 30 to 60 indigenous people to check their eyes and fix those completely destroyed by trauma or damaged by less-equipped surgeons,” he said. “At home and elsewhere, I love my job because I have truly found what I was meant to do on this planet.
“I enjoy hearing a problem and figuring it out, seeing a wide range of diagnostically challenging pathology. I want to expand our practice by bringing the latest and greatest technologies to Waco as they emerge.”
Brazos Eye Surgery of Texas
201 Londonderry Drive
Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.