Health Cover Stories

A Clearer Outlook: SLUCare Physician Group

Local resident Darleen Drugun faced a number of challenges after a recent car accident, not the least of which was a serious injury to her eye. She recovered from broken bones and other problems but was told she should not expect her damaged vision to improve.

Not wanting to give up, Drugun got a referral to optometrist Dr. Katie Loock at the SLUCare Sight & Sound Center in Midtown. Loock, who specializes in corrective lenses for irregular corneas, worked closely with her to fit a custom contact lens that would solve the problem.

“After the accident, I was told that my vision would stay at 20/500,” Drugun says. “It was like trying to see through a thick fog. It was frightening and frustrating, especially because it seemed like I wouldn’t be able to drive again. I’m so glad I got another opinion, though—it made all the difference.” Her vision with the new lens is 20/60, and she has been able to return to most normal activities. The lens also has tinting to improve the look of her iris, which was damaged by the injury.

The Sight & Sound Center, located at the Center for Specialized Medicine at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, welcomes many referral patients like Drugun who need complex care. “Dr. Loock and the staff were caring and concerned about me,” she says. “They really wanted to help restore my vision, and they gave me confidence that there would be a solution. After all of the injuries I had suffered, that hope was a big deal.”

Loock says she, her colleague Dr. Thomas Porter and the vision professionals at the Sight & Sound Center are dedicated to helping people see their best, whether it’s through routine eye care or solutions for more complicated cases. “Regular exams are important to ensure you are seeing well, but they also can alert us to underlying health issues,” she explains. She gives the example of a patient found to have an occluded central retinal artery, a sign of stroke risk, during routine care. “Because we are so close to the hospital emergency department, we were able to take the patient for a stroke assessment right away,” Loock says. “People always say your eyes are the window to your soul, but they can give important hints about your health as well. It’s always gratifying to see our patients happy and returning to normal activities because they got the care they needed.”

She says the professionals at the Sight & Sound Center offer a collaborative approach to ensure patients’ unique issues are addressed. “When needed, we can work with specialists like neurologists and surgeons to return people to a better quality of life,” she says. “Everything patients need for complete eye care is here at the center.”

Drugun says she couldn’t be more satisfied with her own results. “Your eyesight is something you take for granted until it’s suddenly not there,” she says. “Dr. Loock and the SLUCare team gave me my vision and my life back.

The SLUCare Sight & Sound Center at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital offers patients complete vision and hearing care. Pictured on the cover: SLUCare optician Olivera Jandrasevic; optometrists Katie Loock, Michelle Beck and Thomas Porter; and audiologists Melissa Lowe and Dave Harris. For more information, call 314.977.3233 or search for ‘Sight & Sound Center’ at slucare.edu.

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo courtesy of SLUCare Physician Group

Pictured at the top: Dr. Katie Loock examines a patient.
Photo courtesy of SLUCare Physician Group

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