When Dr. David Jacobs was about 10 years old, his father, an ophthalmologist, would bring home VHS copies of his surgeries.
The videos, which were somewhat graphic in nature, would sicken his siblings, but Jacobs was enthralled.
"I thought they were fascinating," he said. "I knew at a young age I wanted to be a doctor."
James C. Falcon/MDN
Dr. David Jacobs, a vitreoretinal specialist, is a new addition to St. Joseph’s-Trinity. In his line of work, Jacobs works with patients who suffer from retinal detachments, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration, to name a few.
After obtaining his medical degree at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia, he had an ophthalmology residency at the Wake Forest University Eye Center, in North Carolina. Following his residency 2 1/2 years ago, Jacobs could have become a cataract surgeon. However, he decided to press on. He wanted to continue training to help preserve vision.
"I wanted to get extra training and doing surgery in the back of the eye," he said. For two years, he had a vitreoretinal fellowship at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, at the University of Miami.
His fellowship ended in July and, on July 15, Jacobs joined the staff at Trinity as a vitreoretinal specialist, a "back of the eye surgeon."
Trinity was in need of such a surgeon, so they went out recruiting. "I'm happy to be here," he said.
Jacob's jurisdiction is the retina, the tissue lining the inside of the eye. He explained that diabetic retinopathy (for those under the age of 50) and macular degeneration (for those over the age of 50) are the leading causes for blindness in the United States.
"I'm a kind of specialist in trying to prevent blindness - that's my goal," he said.
Since he started at St. Joseph's-Trinity, Jacobs said that he has performed about six or seven vitreoretinal surgeries a week.
"I'm really just starting out in the first couple months and it's already been quite busy," he said. "It's good, it's good to be somewhere I'm needed."
Jacobs said he cannot say better things about St. Joseph's-Trinity.
"I basically have the best possible setup," he said. "We can operate on a retinal problem any time. If there's a retinal detachment, we can operate. Often times there is an emergency that needs to be done quickly."
He explained that he has friends - his fellow retinal surgeons - in Los Angeles and Miami who wish they could have that kind of operating room access.
"Lots of times, you're operating in a hospital where you're getting bumped by a gunshot wound," Jacobs said. "They've arranged it so I can operate anytime here and my schedule is not going to get bumped by other cases."
Jacob's retinal repertoire includes surgeries on retinal detachments, aged-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy, to name a few.
"The retina is like the film of a camera," he said. "It has to be nice and thin and attached to see well."
However, in an another analogy, the retina can be like wallpaper. In cases like retinal detachment, the retina separates from the eye, almost like wallpaper peeling off of a wall. Without his presence in Minot, most retinal detachment surgeries would otherwise be transferred to Minnesota.
Fr. Bruce Krebs, of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, is among those cases. Krebs was at a clergy conference in Medora when he began to have problems with his eye. He had started to wear a new set of glasses prior; pegging that as the problem, he switched back to his old pair. The following day, his eye was worse. On Sept. 8, Krebs went to an ophthalmologist in Bismarck to see what was the matter.
"He had checked me out and found out I had a detached retina," Krebs said. "They remembered there was a new retina specialist here in Minot, so they called Dr. Jacobs and he said, 'Yeah, send him up here.'"
That very evening, Krebs was in surgery.
"It was truly a blessing," he said. "They had no one up here before in Minot. Some people have had to go to the Twin Cities to get it done."
Krebs, who has a family medical history of vision-related issues, said that people with vision issues should get them checked out.
"I would encourage anyone having eye issues to go in and get their vision checked and not risk delaying it," Krebs said.
Jacobs cited the American Academy of Ophthalmology's recommendations for when eye exams are needed.
"For people in the aged-related macular degeneration age group - over 50 - they should have a yearly eye exam by a general eye provider," Jacobs said, citing one example. "If the provider sees signs of macular degeneration, I'm happy to assist in managing that."
Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.