In 1945, following WWII, Karl Benkwith, M.D., opened the first ophthalmology office in Montgomery. His son, Sanders Benkwith, M.D., followed him into ophthalmology and joined his father in practice in 1977. Eight years later James Glassner, M.D., joined the Benkwiths, followed by Tom Lyle Mitchell, Jr., M.D., in 1987.
Seeing a need in Central Alabama for a fellowship-trained corneal surgeon, the physicians of MEP brought on board John Swan, M.D., in 1991. Dr. Swan also served as Director of the Alabama Eye and Tissue Bank, formerly located in the Benkwith Eye Center on Zelda Road. He began the Center for Refractive Surgery in Montgomery and currently leads the Laser Vision Correction Team.
With the advent of specialty contact lenses, the physicians knew they needed an expert in the field. In 1995 they asked Dave Welch, O.D., to join the practice to start the contact lens clinic. In 1997, Mike Bradford, O.D., joined forces with Montgomery Eye Physicians in conjunction with the merger of Owens Optical and Prescription Eyewear. Dr. Bradford's patients and the customers of Owens Optical were warmly welcomed into the MEP family. In early 1999, Fred Setzer, O.D., a long-time optometrist and refractive specialist, joined the contact lens staff at the Sturbridge office.
1999 also brought about several other changes. Peter Weinrib, O.D., formerly of Eye Care Consultants, joined the practice as the primary care optometrist at Montgomery Eye Physicians - Prattville. In September 1999, we were saddened to announce the sudden passing of Dr. Weinrib, who had served the Montgomery and Prattville communities for 37 years. Tim Meadows, O.D., a Prattville native, joined Dr. Weinrib just before his death, and now serves as the Montgomery Eye Physicians - Prattville primary eye care specialist. In late 1999, our Laser Center, a state-of-the-art surgical suite for laser vision correction, was completed and began operation, making the VISX excimer laser technology available in a convenient and dedicated location at the Sturbridge office. We have added an advanced computer-controlled laser technology known as IntraLase (blade free LASIK) that significantly reduces the risk of flap complications. Our Laser Center was the first facility in Alabama to obtain the IntraLase technology.
The year 2000 brought about its share of sadness, when long-time contact lens specialist Dr. Dave Welch passed away after an extended illness. Again, in 2001, tragedy struck. Dr. James Glassner was tragically killed in a cycling accident on Dec. 16, 2001 on Pike Road in Bullock County.
In July 2004, we were pleased to have In C. Shin, M.D. join the Practice. Like Dr. Swan, Dr. Shin is a Board Certified, fellowship-trained, corneal surgeon. The past few years have heralded a renewed focus on community involvement and eye health education, with MEP doctors providing information and talks to community groups, as well as screenings as a means of eye disease prevention. New procedures such as DSEK (Descemet's Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty) and SBK (Sub-Bowman's Keratomileusis) are helping patients achieve superior visual results following surgery.
Since those early days following WWII, Montgomery Eye Physicians has focused on satisfying the needs of our patients through comprehensive eye care services, ranging from eye examinations for pre-schoolers and glasses prescriptions to state-of-the-art "no stitch" cataract surgery and laser vision correction and continues to step further into the community by serving as a resource of information on eye health topics.