Corrective lenses have been the principle behind vision health for more than 400 years. When I received my medical degree from the University of Illinois in Chicago in 1979, glasses and contact lenses were the predominant means of bringing refractive focus to your eyes. I thought the state of vision health science was about as good as it would get in my time. Thankfully, I was wrong.
The technique of radial keratotomy (an early type of refractive surgery) proved we could correct a patient’s vision by surgically correcting the shape of the cornea. That said, it wasn’t ideal or precise enough to be the best option for most patients. During my residency at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, laser eye surgery had shown promise, yet advances in laser technology that would make these techniques available to the public seemed decades away.
In my early career as a Chicago ophthalmologist, I had the opportunity to practice refractive surgery at large medical providers including Desert Laser & Eye Institute, P.C. I successfully delivered new state-of-the-art refractive surgery techniques to thousands of patients. We were truly among the first in our field of practice. With the advent of LASIK surgery in 1997, we made corrective eye surgery a reliable and practical option for thousands more.
A lot has changed in 13 years. I'm back in Chicago as an eye surgeon in my own private practice, where I offer the breakthrough treatments that seemed to be impossible 30 years ago. This includes treatments like LASIK surgery, which has become an attainable, life-changing treatment, as well as cataract surgery.
I now have the privilege to spend real time with my patients, not only examining their vision health, but learning about their lives. That's an integral part of practicing medicine. An emphasis on patient care allows us-the patient and eye doctor-to work as a team, designing a custom vision system built for your vision and your lifestyle. I have guided thousands of patients in choosing and having treatments that have corrected their nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and need for reading glasses. Anything less just wouldn't fit. It is your vision, after all.
Returning to practice in Chicago and treating friends and new patients in the city I’ve always called home has been a personally rewarding experience. Recently, the husband of an old friend came in for a visit. He was unable to drive safely or work due to cataracts. They’re a common occurrence at our age, and he assumed he was in for a cataract surgery. “That’s just one of the tolls you pay for living,” he grumbled.
In actuality, that cataract was an opportunity for him to have a treatment that allowed him to see clearly near and far without the need for corrective lenses, just as it has been for thousands of my previous patients. This is because we can often treat cataracts, presbyopia, and astigmatism, nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia) in a single eye surgery. It happens all the time. A patient comes to my practice after losing one of their major sensory functions, assuming that maintenance is their only option, and they leave seeing better than they ever have. This is often a very pleasant surprise!
I’ve experienced Refractive Surgery myself, correcting a significant nearsightedness presbyopia that required me to use glasses. So I know what laser eye surgery feels like from both sides of the scope. I also know what it feels like the next day, as a patient. I enjoy the liberation of being able to read in the distance and at near without the need for glasses or contact lenses. I have performed these procedures on several family members and know what a difference they can make in life.
Of course, every person’s vision is different, and helping you choose the treatment that is best for you is an important part of my practice. Excellent sight is a wonderful and cherished gift. That is why it is my goal to maintain, preserve or restore your vision with the best possible result for you. I love getting to know new patients, and I hope we have the opportunity to work together.
Among the first surgeons in the U.S. to offer surgical correction for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, Chicago ophthalmologist Dr. Sondheimer has performed more than 12,000 refractive surgery procedures and over 10,000 cataract surgeries. A leader in the field, he has shared his knowledge by teaching other practicing ophthalmologists, residents and medical students in the United States as well as in other countries. He also served as a Volunteer Eye Surgeon helping patients in underdeveloped regions of the United States and abroad.
Dr. Sondheimer understands the LASIK procedure from the patient's perspective, since he has undergone vision correction surgery himself. He has also corrected the vision of several of his family members in addition to having performed vision correction surgery on other physicians.
Dr. Sondheimer is a native Chicagoan and lives in Wilmette with his wife, Bonnie. The Sondheimers have six children, and he devotes much of his time away from his practice to his family and is active in civic affairs.
Dr. Sondheimer is certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology. He began his higher education at Washington University in St. Louis, MO., where he earned his bachelor's degree. He attended the University of Illinois in Chicago where he earned his medical degree and completed his flexible internship at Northwestern University, Evanston Hospital. He served his ophthalmology residency at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and completed his basic science course at the University of Texas in Houston.
Currently in private practice with offices in Skokie, Deerfield and Park Ridge, Dr. Sondheimer previously owned and operated the Desert Laser & Eye Institute in Mesa, AZ. Prior to that, he worked with Cigna Health Plan covering the Phoenix, Mesa and Tempe areas. He also served as medical director of the Laser Vision Institute in Tucson, Arizona and was in group practice in Toledo, Ohio before returning home to Chicago.
As an experienced eye doctor in Chicago, Dr. Sondheimer has performed thousands of successful procedures to maintain, restore or preserve vision for patients and is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, the International Society of Refractive Surgery, the Chicago Ophthalmological Society and the Maricopa County Medical Society.