July 03, 2018
2 min read

A supportive partner eases the anxiety of ‘jumping off’

Chris Calcaterra recounts how he made his move to Glaukos.

You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact customerservice@slackinc.com.

If you have been lucky enough, you have had a “jumping-off point” in your life. A point that when you look ahead, it appears fraught with rocks and uncertainty, but when the plunge has ended, you realize your “jumping-off point” brought you more joy and sense of accomplishment than you could ever have achieved without leaping into that great unknown.

Before joining Glaukos, Chris Calcaterra had a successful career at Allergan Surgical and Advanced Medical Optics for 21 years. In 2007, a recruiter reached out to Chris to see if he would be interested in a CEO position for a startup company in the Bay Area that had an interesting new device for treating glaucoma. Because there had not been anything new in the treatment of glaucoma for years, Chris was instantly intrigued, so he flew to the Bay Area for a visit.

When he returned home and shared his experiences and concerns with his supportive wife, Diane, she asked if there was anyone he could speak to, and Chris immediately thought of Tom Burns, the CEO of Glaukos. Chris and Tom met for lunch, and it did not take long for Tom to suggest that Chris stay in Orange County and join his team as the chief commercial officer. Tom offered Chris his mentorship and involvement in all facets of the company, so he could learn what it takes to be a successful CEO at a startup company.

After that lunch, Chris and Tom spoke for almost a year about his potential move to Glaukos. Chris, who had four young children at the time, was naturally concerned about the financial risks and potential impact such a career move could have on his young family.

Again, it was his wife who observed that whenever he was at Glaukos for a discussion or meeting, he came home brimming with enthusiasm and excitement. Chris told me, “It was my wife, Diane. She gave me the push I needed,” so he joined Glaukos on March 30, 2008.

Chris said it was exciting for him to be involved in the creation of the MIGS category and to launch the iStent, the first MIGS device approved in the U.S. for the treatment of mild to moderate glaucoma. However, the first 4 years at Glaukos were not without their challenges. The FDA gave the company a favorable panel review in July 2010, but it did not receive actual FDA approval for the product until June 25, 2012. Since then, the company has “taken off like a rocket ship,” and in 2015, Glaukos became a public company.


Chris explained that he and Tom work together as a team. Tom is the “master strategist and visionary, and I’m the guy who makes it happen. I am so grateful to Tom for the opportunity that he gave me and for the incredible relationship that we have developed.” He closed with the following thoughts: “We have changed the face of glaucoma therapy forever, and I’ve had a role in making that change. I’ve always wanted to leave behind some type of a legacy, and now I think I have.”

With all of the potential risks, Chris chose to listen to his heart and not his head. And his heart of hearts, Diane.

Life is a blessing when you have a genuine partner in life. When you are two souls entwined, always striving to bring one another happiness and contentment. There is virtually nothing two people cannot achieve when they are working together and on the same team. I know this firsthand.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu

Disclosure: Steinert reports no relevant financial disclosures.