Restoring Sight, Changing Lives
When you first meet them you’ll immediately understand why so many people trust them with their vision care. With remarkable experience, their passion and sense of confidence are contagious. And best of all, they’ve cared for your neighbors, right here in South Florida for more than thirty years.
Alan Aker and his wife, Ann, met in 1979 at Cornell University’s North Shore University Hospital. He was chief resident in ophthalmology and she was beginning an internship in OBGyn. Dr. Kasten remembers that for 3 weeks she had a feeling that someone was following her in the hospital. “When I was performing some of my surgical procedures, I kept seeing this face pop up in the glass window of the operating room door and then suddenly it would disappear,” she recalls. Eventually Alan asked her out and they were engaged three months later. They shared the first ever “Gray’s Anatomy” type of relationship in the hospital.
On the cutting-edge of technology
When Dr. Aker was a young resident, his mentor, Dr. Ira Kaufman, trusted him to do lens implants when most attending physicians were not yet doing them. This confidence in his skill levels led to an invitation to stay on and direct the North Shore University Hospital’s residency program. As chief resident, Dr. Aker performed one of the first vitrectomies ever performed in the New York area on a woman who had been blind for eight years. “I’ll never forget after the surgery, running up to her room, taking her patch off and witnessing amazement as she identified Walter Cronkite on the TV set,” he shared. The woman’s mom and a nurse in the room began to cry because she had been totally blind. To make the surgery possible, Dr. Ira Kaufman authorized the purchase of a new machine for $25,000 after Dr. Aker showed him a video of the procedure being performed. “It’s amazing that he let me do that,” he stated.
While training to do lens implants, Dr. Aker suggested that the hospital hold a course to teach other doctors how to do what Dr. Ira Kaufman was teaching him to do. As a result, they conducted one of the first cataract/implant courses ever given in the tri-state area. There were 375 doctors that attended the first course, overflowing the hospital auditorium, with many doctors having to stand in the hallway to see the presentation. “I think of Ira Kaufman every day I’m in surgery. He was a phenomenal teacher and the best surgeon I could have ever trained under,” recalls Dr. Aker. Dr. Kaufman taught humility, always giving credit to the ones who went before him. “If you become a well-known surgeon someday, remember that you look further down the road only because you stand on the shoulders of the giants who went before us,” he often reminded his students.
As Dr. Kasten began to fall in love with Dr. Aker, she also fell in love with ophthalmology. She had never discovered the surgical aspects of ophthalmology until she met Dr. Aker and watched him in the operating room. “He was doing so many advanced techniques that I found it totally fascinating and I chose to leave OBGyn and go into ophthalmology,” said Dr. Kasten.
From New York to South Florida
Dr. Alan B. Aker and his wife, Dr. Ann G. Kasten Aker founded the Aker Kasten Eye Center in the mid 80’s. The idea to build an ASC (Ambulatory Surgery Center) began when they realized that patients weren’t being treated very nicely, and were moved from stretcher to stretcher by people who didn’t know them or seem to have a vested interest in them. “We decided to build our own ASC in order to be able to control every aspect of our patients’ experience from the time they came in to the time they were discharged,” Dr. Aker remarked. “We looked for land to buy in New York, but because the regulatory environment there was so unfriendly, we began to consider a move to Florida.” Dr. Aker’s parents were already in Florida and Dr. Kasten’s parents were snowbirds, so Florida became the logical choice.
Their arrival in Florida was met with criticism from other doctors over some of the things they were doing. To address this criticism, they wrote their “Love Thy Neighbor” newsletter. In it, they explained why they were doing things such as providing transportation and why they were building their own ASC (Ambulatory Surgery Center). The newsletter also highlighted the essence of who they are as a couple, who they are as eye surgeons and what their surgical team together represents as a unit.
The ASC (Ambulatory Surgery Center) in South Florida was built large enough so that there was room to expand in the future. Dr. Aker and Dr. Kasten set out to identify the very best equipment available, most of it coming from Switzerland. As technology advanced, they were able to remain at the very forefront of cutting-edge technology. The staff was involved in the layout and design of the building to ensure patient comfort, safety and efficiency. “We didn’t want patients to be met at a window like most offices and have to be ‘buzzed’ in to the back. We wanted it to be a wide-open office with a circular pattern for a nice patient flow,” said Dr. Aker.
Today, as a recognized premier vision and cataract care Center in South Florida, Aker Kasten Eye Center provides the highest quality care to our patients in a warm and friendly environment. Dr. Alan Aker and Dr. Ann Kasten Aker care for their staff as though they were family, treating each staff member with honor and respect. Each individual patient is also treated with the same love, care and respect.
Our experienced, multi-physician team provides a comprehensive range of vision care – from advanced eye surgery and breakthrough cataract treatment to vision correction and routine eye care. We are committed to excellence, providing the latest in new technology and treatments to help our patients maintain the best possible vision at any age.