OSN lauds Richard L. Lindstrom for steadfast leadership for more than 20 years
For some younger ophthalmologists, there has always been an Ocular Surgery News. For these same ophthalmologists, Richard L. Lindstrom, MD, has always been OSN’s Chief Medical Editor.
Image: Shari Fleming Photography
As he has said himself, he has been involved “since day 1” of OSN’s 30-plus years of continuous publication, and he has been Chief Medical Editor for nearly 20 of those years, donning that mantle since 1996.
Peter Slack, CEO and president of The Wyanoke Group, parent company of SLACK Incorporated, recognized early Lindstrom’s qualities as a natural leader with a diplomatic flair and journalistic sense of balance and fairness.
“When I first met Dick, SLACK Incorporated was analyzing publishing opportunities with the ISRK (now International Society of Refractive Surgery) and Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists (CLAO). Dick was on the executive committee for both. Dick seamlessly wore his ISRK and CLAO hats simultaneously and led the discussion representing both organizations without compromising either. It was apparent that he had extraordinary diplomatic skills and quickly earned our admiration,” Slack said.
“A few years later when we conducted a search for the new editor of OSN, only one name came to the top,” Slack said. “We were prepared to approach him like Fran Tarkenton as a free agent (an old Minnesota reference but a worthy comparison). As we presented Dick with all the wonderful reasons for taking the position, it quickly became apparent that his acceptance had nothing to do with benefits to him but rather his vision for how OSN could become a vehicle to advance and discuss new developments and important issues in ophthalmology with speed and accuracy. Dick has done just that and so much more.”
SLACK Incorporated has a heavy presence across a multitude of health care specialties, not only in ophthalmology but also in orthopedics, endocrinology and cardiology, among many others, each with its own associated publication or Web presence. Lindstrom stands out, even among the stately group of medical editors associated with those publications.
“As a point of comparison, a few years back we brought together all the chief medical editors of our major publications. As you can imagine, this group had some heavyweights. Much as we had observed in our initial experience with Dick, he stood out as the natural leader. He let others speak, and then he took us where we needed to go, as he has with our organization for the past 20 years. And the best part is that he does it in such a way that those involved become excited to follow his lead, and the results speak for themselves,” Slack said.
Under Lindstrom’s leadership, OSN has grown from a single U.S.-centric publication to reaching, by his estimate, 118,000 ophthalmologists worldwide, or 80% to 90% of the ophthalmologists in the world.
The collaborative decision to make OSN a global source of information was a “bold move,” Lindstrom said, and is one of the decisions he is most proud to have taken part in.
Dick, thanks so much to you and Jaci for all that you have done in support of OSN and our entire organization, and most of all for making it all so much fun. But make no mistake, we are not finished yet. I am looking forward to continuing to learn from you for years to come.
CEO and president
The Wyanoke Group
When Dick first assumed his role as Chief Medical Editor of OSN, he introduced us to the concept of Kaizen, or continuous incremental improvement. It became our mantra and our mission to make OSN a little bit better each year, and it has served us well. As Global Chief Medical Editor of the U.S., Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America editions of OSN, Dick takes particular pride in helping to grow the OSN footprint around the globe, enticing contributors with the opportunity to communicate their work through “the voice of 100,000 ophthalmologists worldwide.” It has been an honor and a privilege to work with and learn from Dick all these years. He is our E.F. Hutton. Early in every discussion about next steps for OSN, someone inevitably says, “Let’s see what Dick thinks.” And he never disappoints. His amazing insight and level-headed advice is always welcome and always on point. Beyond that Dick is simply wonderful to be around. It is always a pleasure to spend time with him, to share a round of golf or dinner with him and Jaci. He is a great friend and a great gentleman. We know how lucky we are to have had him at the helm of OSN for the last 20 years and to have had him in our lives even longer. We look forward to many more great years of his leadership and friendship.
John C. Carter
Chief Operating Officer
The Wyanoke Group
For this issue of Ocular Surgery News, we asked our editorial board members to discuss the impact Dick Lindstrom has made on their ophthalmology careers. His peers characterize him in many ways — role model, friend, mentor, communicator, visionary, leader, educator, innovator, entrepreneur, inspiration — but no one label characterizes the whole of the man who has lent his depth to this publication “since day 1.”
Louis D. “Skip” Nichamin, MD
My first real encounter with Dick took place at an Iolab surgeons’ retreat in Deer Valley, Colo., in 1992, a time when industry and surgeons could interact in a much more liberal and free fashion than we can today.
At the time, Dick was nothing short of a hero to this young “turk.” Yet the moment we met while sharing a ride from the airport up to the mountains, his warm and affable charm melted away my intimidation from this larger-than-life figure. From that experience forward, our relationship grew steadily, and he has been a singularly unique mentor, role model and, most importantly, a terrific friend.
David F. Chang, MD
Dick Lindstrom has been a role model for so many ophthalmologists in my generation. It is not just because he has been, in my opinion, the single most influential leader at the forefront of cataract and refractive surgery. It is because of the altruism and integrity with which he has carried this mantle. In addition to being Chief Medical Editor of Ocular Surgery News, he is a past president of the International Society of Refractive Surgery and American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery and is the current chair of the ASCRS Foundation. It has been on the ASCRS board that I have been able to observe and learn from Dick’s remarkable leadership skills on a more personal level. He has impacted anterior segment surgery on every meaningful level, from clinical research and innovation, professional education, industry consulting, global philanthropy, and political and regulatory advocacy. Much of what he has accomplished has been behind the scenes and unsung, but his leadership has had an untold impact on your practice and mine. For this, and for his personal support and advice, I owe Dick my sincere thanks and admiration.
I. Howard Fine, MD
Dick Lindstrom has been a friend, a fellow traveler, a co-faculty member, a motorcycle companion, a co-participant in many executive committees and, in many ways, a role model for me.
I have never met anyone that I consider to be more brilliant than Dick Lindstrom. I have always been amazed at his enormous ability to predict the role of emerging technology, changing political climates and economic uncertainty and the impact of those on the lives and practices of ophthalmologists.
His brilliance in planning and innovating possible solutions for problems faced by ophthalmologists and their practices has been helpful to ophthalmologists not only in America, but all over the world.
He is a spectacular businessman with impeccable integrity, and this has been very beneficial to the organizations in which he has held a leadership role.
I have noted on many occasions the enormous kindness and compassion that is a part of Dick’s approach to problems in the lives and careers of other physicians.
I have consulted him on many occasions for help regarding shaping the culture of my own practice, perspectives on new technology, as well as on business models. He has often surprised me, but never has he disappointed me.
Dick’s presence has been very important as a leader and a spokesman for ophthalmology in America, and his expertise has helped many companies within the ophthalmic industry improve their products or their business models for the benefit of patients and eye surgeons.
I congratulate Dick on a spectacular 20 years as medical editor of Ocular Surgery News and thank him for the many ways in which he has been a help to me.
David Dillman, MD
In 1985, planned extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE) was still mainstream, as that upstart phacoemulsification was trying to elbow its way to center stage. In August 1985, I was extended one of my very first teaching opportunities ever, to be on the faculty for an ECCE course at the University of Minnesota. I was so thrilled; I had trained in Minnesota (at Mayo), and my young wife was from Minnesota. I had been in practice for only less than 4 years, and I was being asked to teach.
The program director was a young professor in Minnesota’s Ophthalmology Department, Dr. Richard Lindstrom.
By the way, we actually used geese — whole geese — for the wet lab. (If you have ever spent much time in Minnesota, you would know that the goose could easily be the state bird rather than the common loon, although some claim the giant mosquito of Minnesota’s summers would also qualify.)
I was so impressed by Dick’s command of cataract surgery to be sure, but more impressed that he clearly wanted his participants and faculty members to feel important and validated. He wanted to be positive that all left with their course objectives met, feeling good about themselves. His expertise and demeanor caused me to leave that course saying to myself, “I would like to someday be an expert in cataract surgery, and I would like to someday be a truly effective teacher, like Dick Lindstrom.”
I will be forever grateful for that experience. Thank you, Dick.
Jeffrey Whitman, MD
Dick Lindstrom represents the “calm” in the room at every meeting. You walk in, see him there, and you know that whatever the meeting or topic — all will flow smoothly. Although he has shared hundreds of thoughts on technique and instrument use, it is his ability to communicate with the ophthalmologists and lay public with such ease that has made me a better doctor and speaker. Thank you for 20 years, and here’s to 20 more.
Uday Devgan, MD
As a resident with a thirst for knowledge, I would enthusiastically read every issue of Ocular Surgery News, paying particular attention to articles written by Dr. Lindstrom. I am still amazed at his ability to bring the clinical, surgical, academic, research and business aspects of ophthalmology together into one cohesive message. His passion for ophthalmology is contagious, and I sought him as a role model for my own career.
One of Dr. Lindstrom’s most salient teaching points was to keep an open mind about each new technology or product because ophthalmology will continue to evolve and surgery in the future will be different from what we know today. Only time will tell if the clinical benefit of a product will be sufficient to justify its expense and whether a new technology will truly be revolutionary. When I see how our current techniques of cataract surgery have changed so much in just the past decade, I realize just how right he is.
Like all truly great teachers, Dr. Lindstrom explains that while it is good to emulate mentors initially, it is more important to develop your own style and approach. I have taken this advice to heart, and it has encouraged me to be a better clinician, surgeon and teacher. I want to personally thank Dr. Lindstrom for the years of teaching, guidance and friendship, and I certainly look forward to many more.
William B. Trattler, MD
Dr. Lindstrom is an amazing role model and mentor. I have had the chance to observe how he has really helped our profession make incredible advances that dramatically improve patient care, and it seems that Dr. Lindstrom has been involved with the development of so many game-changing technologies. I have learned that advancement of our field is a team effort, but also requires leaders like Dr. Lindstrom who can visualize how a particular technology can improve our ability to provide outstanding care to our patients.
Jack T. Holladay, MD, MSEE, FACS
Dick Lindstrom is one of my closest friends. As Chief Medical Editor of OSN for 20 years, he has been and remains the most influential person in ophthalmology. His opinions, clinical insight and forward thinking have helped every ophthalmologist and patient in some way. His role at OSN is just the tip of the iceberg. He is extremely busy in private practice, is on the board of enough companies to fill many slides, has several philanthropic interests that help children and those not fortunate enough to afford quality ophthalmic care, and continues to provide guidance to many companies on designs of new products from an engineering and business standpoint. His busy schedule would leave most of us in the hospital.
There is another side of Dick that most people do not see. Amazingly, with this nonstop schedule, he still makes time for his family. His wife, children and grandchildren are the most important thing in his life, and it shows. Balancing one’s life so that the people you care about the most are the highest priority often gets lost in the day-to-day shuffle, and Dick has his priorities in the right order. I am very proud to call Dick my close friend and treasure all of the time we have spent together. OSN and ophthalmology are fortunate to have Dick at the helm.
Rudolph S. Wagner, MD
Dick Lindstrom’s ability to balance clinical excellence and academics has served as an example for my career. I remain inspired by his ability to recognize the important developments in all specialties in ophthalmology while being a primary thought leader in his own field of specialization. He is a fine ophthalmologist and leader, and I am proud to know him.
John B. Pinto
Where to begin? Dick Lindstrom has been a pole star for so many of us, in so many domains of ophthalmology, that he constitutes his own separate solar system. He not only converses fluently in every subspecialty domain, but he also runs circles around most of us involved in the field’s economic and practice-business spheres and has helped scores of industry participants make new products for a generation of surgeons and their patients.
Dick’s renaissance chops are matched by his generosity. In my personal experience, Dick has never failed to volunteer, whether for an arcane curbstone question or a deeper challenge.
Dick’s long (and hopefully much longer still) career has constituted a wide and well-traversed bridge between the early innovators of the profession and its latest grads, between the highest science and routine clinical practice of ophthalmology, between practitioners in different countries, and between the medical, financial and sociopolitical realms of eye care. This bridge will remain open long after Dick slows and retires.
Congratulations on your 20 years as the anchorman of Ocular Surgery News and for a life’s work of achievement.
Noel A. Alpins, MD
I have known Dick for all his time as Chief Medical Editor and have traveled with him to many parts of the world, including Africa and Cambodia. Most of this time I have had the good fortune to serve with him as an editorial board member and watch the publication grow in content and stature under his leadership, while being distributed to an increasing number of countries.
Not only is Dick a lot of fun to be with, he has always been a wealth of information on a multitude of subjects requiring very little notice, which he once aptly demonstrated with a vector demonstration over dinner in Africa.
Keep up your good work, Dick — you are an inspiration to us all.
Alan E. Reider, JD, MPH
Most of my dealings with Dick Lindstrom have taken place during conferences when we share a podium and he introduces me prior to a presentation. He is always gracious and generous in his remarks, and I very much appreciate them. But my anecdote is one that I am sure that Dick does not remember, but one that I will not forget. Several years ago, during a Hawaiian Eye meeting, I found myself on the tennis court with Dick as my opponent. I was younger (but not by much), and his knees were in braces (mine were not). I thought I would have to go easy on him (I was wrong). After a humbling defeat, Dick congratulated me on my effort. He was gracious on the court, as he has always been gracious on the podium. And I really appreciated it that day.
Timothy W. Olsen, MD
In 1988, I was applying for the ophthalmology match program to try and get the very best residency. I interviewed at the University of Minnesota and met Dr. Richard Lindstrom. Certainly, I had heard about his reputation as an innovator, and I was not disappointed. I met a man who was doing exciting research and had a very open yet inquisitive disposition that attracted me, so I ranked Minnesota near the top of my residency match rank list. Dick left for private practice, and I received a personal message explaining his decision and that I should contact Ed Holland for research opportunities. I did and enjoyed my residency immensely. However, Dick and I have stayed in touch over the years. He is a natural leader in ophthalmology, in the community of the Twin Cities, as well as at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Lindstrom has entrepreneurial talent with an amazing gift of being able to see what will work and what is important. He has a focused and strategic networking skill that enables him to be viewed as the person who is frequently at the white-hot center of refractive innovation. Dick’s editorials in OSN are always insightful and focused on what may be important to the broad readership in ophthalmology. Many of us continue to benefit from his remarkable and timely insights into our profession. Thank you, Dick, for all that you do.
John A. Hovanesian, MD, FACS
Twenty years ago, when I was a resident reading Dr. Lindstrom’s articles in OSN, I thought he must be the epitome of an innovative, academic physician leader who also possessed the skills to prosper in a private practice environment — a fine example for a young trainee. Over the years, as I have had the good fortune to get to know Dick personally through meetings, courses we have taught and recently traveling together, I have witnessed firsthand his remarkable ability to step outside the physician’s usual thought process and propose novel solutions that so often make me ask, “Why couldn’t I think of that?!”
But what I have also learned in getting to know Dick over the years is that, while brilliant, he is also a most humble, grounded man. A giant to us who know him professionally, he is a teddy bear to his devoted wife, Jaci, his children and grandchildren. In his work, much of which is charitable, when operating, teaching and communicating with patients, he is always quietly patient and compassionate. Hearing verbal accolades, he responds with a most endearing, shy disregard.
What better example could we have for OSN’s Chief Medical Editor than a man who exemplifies all that a mentor, teacher and physician should be? Congratulations, Dick, on 20 years of leadership to ophthalmology’s top publication worldwide, and thanks for being such a fine role model for so many of us who regard you with our highest admiration and esteem.
Robert S. Gold, MD
There is no question in my mind that because of Dr. Lindstrom’s leadership and vision at Ocular Surgery News, the subspecialty of pediatric ophthalmology became an important part of many issues with many articles, discussions, round tables and hot topics. For me, as the section editor, his influence directly led to an expansion of the pediatrics/strabismus editorial board and the ability to dispense information to our readership that it might not ordinarily obtain. While pediatric ophthalmologists might take care of “little people,” we are given a “big role” as we educate ophthalmologists all over the U.S. and the world. I, personally, and my editorial board, thank Dr. Lindstrom for the opportunity to be part of OSN.
Robert H. Osher, MD
Lindstrom: An educator, visionary, talented surgeon, innovator, entrepreneur, compassionate physician and a damn good friend. What’s not to love?
George L. Spaeth, MD
He has influenced the field of ophthalmology hugely. He has been a role model for creativity and a responsible entrepreneur, developing valuable new products. He is full of new ideas, which he tests and brings to the market and to patients. I don’t know anybody who has done that with more originality, creativity and success. He is a role model for how to advance the field technologically in a responsible way; that is a great achievement. Dick is enormously competitive, which becomes immediately apparent when you get on a tennis court with him. His knees are not great, but to watch him run around the court with his banded knees is a lesson in willpower. He came to Philadelphia some years ago to give a lecture to honor my father, and it was one of the most creative, original talks I have ever heard.
Thomas W. Samuelson, MD
Despite his global reach, I doubt that there is an ophthalmologist anywhere who has benefitted more from Dick Lindstrom’s largesse than I have. I joined Dick’s practice directly out of fellowship. Clinically green for sure, but incredibly green and naïve from a business standpoint. I have learned so much from Dick, both clinically and in terms of practice management. When asked, I always inform people that I completed my glaucoma fellowship training at Will’s Eye Hospital and my anterior segment/small-incision phacoemulsification/practice management training from Dick as his associate. I am extremely grateful to Dick for so many things. Minnesota Eye Consultants has become a thriving practice based on the foundation of collegial support and mentoring that the more senior physicians provide for each new associate. As Dick’s first partner, I can confirm that his benevolence and support have been incredible from the very start; he created the culture.
Is there a more recognizable ophthalmologist in the world? I wonder. I have never met another Dick Lindstrom, and I don’t expect that I ever will.
Congratulations, Dick, on your iconic career and on 20 years at the helm of OSN. Salute!
Kenneth R. Kenyon, MD
As near contemporaries, my earliest memorable encounter with Dick Lindstrom occurred in 1978, when we converged in San Francisco for our oral board exam. As candidates nervously awaited close encounters with examiners, Dick and I calmed our own judgment day jitters in amazement of those who toted multiple volumes of Duane’s en route to meet their makers. Surviving trial by ordeal is truly a bonding experience.
In the ’80s age of sub-sub-sub-specialization, I was impressed that Dick, by now having fellowship training in both cornea as well as glaucoma, dared to be different in becoming the compleat anterior segment man-for-all-lesions, early adapting to a trend that has now become even more self-evident with the advent of refractive surgery.
Shortly thereafter, Dick and I, along with a group of others, formed Excelsior, a corneal focus group to optimize our practice efficiency and quality, whose lessons continue to influence my organizational efforts even today. In the early ’90s, I was honored when Dick invited my participation in developing the cornea and external disease section of the OSN editorial board, again a paradigm shifting exposure beyond my heretofore academic-oriented and hence limited perspectives. Indeed, OSN continued to grow, develop and become a globally pre-eminent publication under Dick’s renaissance man leadership, a consequence not simply of his ability to be all things to all people but rather of additionally possessing the overview perspicacity to envision megatrends and the next big thing, a remarkably creative choreography of clinical practice, subspecialty, industry, R&D, regulatory, health care delivery, economy, medi-business, education, and … and … and … . Somehow, despite this ever accelerating and increasingly complex age of carpe diem (or for corneophiles, carpe DM), Dick’s inimitable “Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!” style continues to amaze, as he remarkably still surfs the wave and remains ahead of the tsunami.
Yet, as we all “mature,” the inescapable reality of ars longa, vita brevis remains all too inevitable. Hence, Dick, please accept this salute of personal and professional gratitude to you, our Jedi Master of the visual arts and sciences: Long live King Richard! May your next 20 years of OSN enlightenment sans despotism continue to illuminate, guide and show us the way!
R. Bruce Wallace III, MD
My friendship with Dick goes back to the early days of multifocal lens investigation in the mid-80s. Dick was responsible for monitoring the first study (3M), a very complicated project, and did a fantastic job. I got to know Dick through that experience and got to know what a great leader (and surgeon) he is. He is a wise and intelligent man.
When Ocular Surgery News was started, there were not any other publications like it. Peter Slack and Dick developed a publication that was not really seen before. Back then, we had three major peer-reviewed journals that we received by mail: Ophthalmology, American Journal of Ophthalmology and Archives of Ophthalmology. We still have those journals, but the everyday information we receive from OSN is a treasure.
Dick and I had a mutual friend, Malcolm McCannel, who passed away a year ago. McCannel was not only a practicing ophthalmologist in Minneapolis but also a pioneer of practice management methods who inspired many of us to become better clinicians. At annual retreats held at Dick’s home in Minneapolis, Malcolm would come by to visit, to show how important Dick was.
I also want to mention Jaci Lindstrom, Dick’s wife. Jaci is the main source of his inspiration and the love of his life. They are a wonderful couple, and together the two of them have helped a lot of people. She has been integral to Dick’s success in ophthalmology and in life. They are a dynamic duo.
Thomas “TJ” John, MD
Dr. Richard Lindstrom is a true leader in every sense of the word. He has an incredible ability to comprehend the diverse and ever-changing fast-paced technology-driven field of ophthalmology and be an integral part of the process of shaping and directing this medical specialty in a positive way that very few, if any, can perform in such a magnificent manner. He demonstrates a passionate commitment to constantly improve and advance our field of ophthalmology that goes beyond rhetoric. He has an uncanny ability to see what lies ahead in the future and is able to articulate this vision in a crystal clear delivery and share a formulated, well-thought-out strategic plan that is both surgeon and corporate friendly, to move everyone to that futuristic site that is far better than the present. Being trained at both Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and the University of Pennsylvania, I had the opportunity early in my career to meet and work very closely with some of the leaders in the field of ophthalmology. Post-training when I first met Dr. Richard Lindstrom, I was impressed and awestruck beyond expression as to his surgical skill set, his clinical acumen and patient interactions, his caring relationship with his staff, his time-management skills, his business perspective and, beyond everything, being a true gentleman. Dr. Lindstrom is truly my hero, and I have not yet met another individual like him in my entire ophthalmic career. I am thankful to have come to know him personally, and his inspirational leadership in the field of ophthalmology drives me in a positive way. Dr. Lindstrom optimizes vision, direction, strategy, ethics, productivity and ophthalmic advancement through a deep understanding of the variables involved and aligning the components for a shared purpose to benefit each and every one interested in eye care that very few leaders in the world can deliver.
– Compiled by Nhu Te and edited by OSN Staff
Disclosures: Contributors to this article have no relevant financial disclosures.