Zion Eye Institute’s newest physician understands the effects of going blind and is passionate to help

Composite image. Background photo shows the Zion Eye Institute, St. George, Utah, Sept. 4, 2019. Foreground image features Dr. Rick Nordgren, date and location not specified | Background photo by Andrew Pinckney. Nordgren photo courtesy of Zion Eye Institute, St. George News

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — If you’re having vision problems from age-related conditions like macular degeneration, it’s important to find an eye doctor you can trust — one who listens and understands the debilitating effects of going blind.

“We only have one retina; we can’t replace it,” said Dr. Rick Nordgren of St. George’s Zion Eye Institute. “Whatever is going on with it, we have to do our best to take care of it.”

Nordgren, a board-certified vitreoretinal surgeon, is the newest addition to Zion Eye’s staff of fellowship-trained physicians. He told St. George News he enjoys talking to his patients and helping them understand their eye health. He is excited to be a new part of the staff.

Nordgren was born in Salt Lake City and graduated from Brigham Young University. After completing his two-year fellowship training at the Retina Institute of Indiana and practicing there for two additional years, he and his wife were looking to make a change. With two children, a love of the outdoors and a desire to be closer to family in Utah, Nordgren said when the opening at Zion Eye Institute came up, he knew it would be an excellent opportunity.

“I wanted to go somewhere I am needed,” he said, adding that he was fortunate to get the position because of Zion Eye’s good location in Southern Utah and already being well-established within the community.

Dr. Rick Nordgren, Zion Eye Institue, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Zion Eye Institute, St. George News

Even though Nordgren’s first anatomy and physiology classes as a sophomore in college led him to an interest in medical school, he said the fact that his older brother suffers from permanent central vision loss ultimately led him to find a job in the field.

Now as a physician, he is passionate about helping others and said it makes him happy when he is able to help patients with their vision issues.

“I really enjoy helping patients understand what’s going on. That way they understand better when you recommend surgery or other treatment. They understand why you’re recommending it,” he explained. He said he believes this helps the patients get on board with the treatment plan and to know what to expect, as well as helping them feel more empowered and like they are part of the decision-making process.

Sometimes people come in and are literally going blind. Fortunately, Nordgren said, there are a lot of things they can do to help in many of these situations. Not all of the time, he said, “but there are a lot of times I we can stop patients from going blind or bring a lot of their vision back.”

“When we can do that, that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

When it comes to retina problems, he said they are unique from many other eye problems because the retina is essentially an extension of the brain. When patients come in with a problem, whether it is macular degeneration or something else that has caused the retina harm, the staff at Zion Eye Institute does their best to manage it and help patients see as clearly as possible.

“Right now, we don’t have a cure for a lot of retinal diseases,” Nordgren said, “but we are able to treat many of them.”

When speaking of his patients, Dr. Nordgren said: “My goal is not just to take care of their eyes but also to help take care of patients and their challenges.”

Nordgren is fluent in Spanish and said it has been a great asset and “blessing” in his line of work. One of his highest priorities is having good doctor-patient relationships and communication, and he thinks it definitely makes Spanish-speaking patients feel more comfortable and confident with what he’s doing knowing he can speak their language.

For more information about Nordgren and other physicians at Zion Eye Institute, visit their website.

Call for an appointment with Nordgren today at 435-656-2020.

Written by ANDREW PINCKNEY, St. George News.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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