Who Will Be the Next ‘Great One’?


Who Will Be The Next ‘Great One’?

“Don’t skate to where the puck is; skate to where it is headed.”


Peter K. Kaiser, MD

— Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky is arguably the greatest player to ever play ice hockey. He scored goals by being in the right place at the right time. It’s an easy game, if you know where the right place is!

I still enjoy playing ice hockey and am looking forward to our game against the Canadians at the American Society of Retina Specialists meeting in Toronto. But knowing where to go is never easy with the pace of the game. What made Gretzky great was his ability to see the play form before it started. The same is true in business and in surgery.

Great businessmen know to enter fields before others even know the field exists. A good recent example is Google, which started by reinventing Internet searching and parlayed that into the juggernaut that is the current Google, including Maps, Documents, and Books, which we all use on a daily basis.

But in Google’s skunk works, new ideas and inventions are constantly being produced, including Google Glass — something that we don’t even know we need (or in some instances what it is), but in the future that we might all be using. Google is constantly innovating and staying ahead of other businesses. This has made the company very successful.

This paradigm is also true in surgery. Great surgeons see new techniques and ideas before others and quickly invent or adopt techniques and technologies that help them achieve these goals. Many may laugh or criticize their ideas in the beginning because they are only following the puck, but in the end, these innovators are often right, and they move our field forward.

Currently in retina, many surgical techniques are showing promise, but they have not yet been widely adopted — among them 27-gauge surgery, in-office vitrectomy, intraoperative OCT, and very high-speed cutting. In many of these instances, we are still learning how and where to use them and do not yet see their utility. It may take many years.

The same is true of surgical techniques. In this issue, we look at surgery for diabetic macular edema. There are many who feel this procedure has been shown to be ineffective by the surgery study. Others feel differently. It may take years to see the true place of surgery for DME.

So as surgeons we should all strive to be where the puck is headed, not where it has been. Instead of following the puck and being behind the play, we should be scoring goals.