February 2018


Couple met through shared interests

by Ellen Stodola EyeWorld Senior Staff Writer

Dr. Waring and Dr. Rocha

Dr. Rocha and Dr. Waring with their son, George V

Dr. Waring and Dr. Rocha celebrate their son’s second birthday.
Source (all): George Waring IV, MD

Dr. Waring and Dr. Rocha both work in cornea, cataract, and refractive surgery in Charleston, South Carolina

For George Waring IV, MD, FACS, and Karolinne Maia Rocha, MD, PhD, not only did their personal relationship begin in ophthalmology, but because of similar interests in cataract and refractive surgery, their professional relationship has developed, with collaboration on research and clinical work. Now, a decade after they met, they discussed the beginnings of their relationship, its development, and how they balance their personal and professional lives on a daily basis.
When asked about when they first met, Dr. Waring said that the story depends on who you ask.
“Karolinne was an editor for a paper that I had submitted for a supplement for the Journal of Refractive Surgery looking at spherical aberration for hyperopic LASIK,” he said. “When I got the reviews, I was taken aback by how many there were.”
Dr. Waring said he knew who the editor was, and he was a fan of her work in spherical aberration and depth of focus, though they had never met.
A few months later while they were both at the Wavefront Congress, Dr. Waring introduced himself when he saw Dr. Rocha at the back of the auditorium after his presentation, and “thanked her for her constructive criticism” in her review of his manuscript. Following that meeting, they both attended the Surface Ablation and Femtosecond Laser Congress where they were lecturing and finally had the chance to chat. Dr. Waring asked if he could join Dr. Rocha and a friend for lunch.
Dr. Waring invited them both to a reception at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology meeting honoring his father, George Waring III, MD, with the prestigious Weisenfeld Award. They came, but Dr. Waring was too shy to speak to them. Dr. Rocha, who was “miffed” and didn’t understand why he would invite her and not speak to her, decided to leave. Before she could, Dr. Waring’s father, who has since passed away, stopped her at the door and convinced them to stay and socialize longer at the reception.
“Basically, we owe it to my dad that we ended up together,” Dr. Waring said.
During the beginning of their relationship, Dr. Rocha was doing her fellowship in refractive surgery at the Cleveland Clinic with Ronald Krueger, MD, and Dr. Waring was in Kansas City doing his fellowship with Daniel Durrie, MD.
“It was hard because we were flying a lot,” Dr. Rocha said. They would visit each other every opportunity they could, and she remembers while attending the ESCRS Congress in Berlin, Dr. Waring suggested they fly back through Atlanta so he could introduce her to his family.
“After I met her, I knew she was the one,” Dr. Waring said. “As we dated and realized that we belonged together, we also realized the sacrifice that would be entailed, particularly if we decided to stay in the U.S.” Dr. Rocha had already completed an ophthalmology residency and two surgical fellowships and a PhD in optics in Brazil. “The more serious we became, what we decided as a couple was that she was going to come to the U.S. and essentially redo her training,” he said. “Like anything else in life, the more challenging the circumstance, the more rewarding, and we knew that love would allow us to surmount all challenges. Once we met, nothing was going to stand in our way of being together. She came to Atlanta where I went after my fellowship and did another fellowship at the Emory Eye Center in refractive surgery.”
Dr. Rocha was accepted to the Cleveland Clinic for residency, and Dr. Waring followed her there.
Following her residency, Dr. Rocha and Dr. Waring had to decide between staying in Cleveland or moving to Charleston, ultimately choosing Charleston where they both took positions as co-directors of the cornea and refractive surgery division at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

Research interests

Dr. Waring and Dr. Rocha are both heavily involved in publications, research and development in cataract and refractive surgery, and collaborate on a regular basis.
The lens and cornea-based refractive surgery as a subspecialty is a relatively small international group, Dr. Waring said. “What brought us together was the same subspecialty research interests.
“It’s neat because I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for her as a clinician scientist and surgeon, so it’s fun to work together, whether it’s operating side by side, helping with a new device, or collaborating on research projects,” Dr. Waring added.

Balancing family and home life

Dr. Waring and Dr. Rocha are also focused on the balance of home life and work with the addition of their son, George V, to their family.
“We need to be much more efficient in trying to get home as early as possible from work with the baby,” Dr. Rocha said, adding that when she’s in the OR, she’s usually home around 3:30 or 4:00 p.m.
She added that it’s important to be efficient with any work that they need to do at home, like catching up on emails or conference calls, when he’s napping or has gone to bed.
Dr. Waring said that for many meetings that he and Dr. Rocha speak at, they travel as a family with baby George accompanying them. “He’s been all over the world now,” Dr. Waring said. They also try to find time to go for bike rides on the beach as a family and time for themselves to stay centered. Dr. Waring added that on occasion, he or Dr. Rocha will attend a meeting alone and represent the other. “It’s a balance, and we’ve had to be more selective,” he said.
Additionally, Dr. Waring founded a private practice, the Waring Vision Institute. This is another reason they’ve been more selective with meetings they attend, but he added that they’re both still very active in committees and clinical research. The Waring Vision Institute opened in 2017, with Dr. Waring running the private practice and Dr. Rocha running the cornea and refractive division at MUSC.
“We’re very thankful for the opportunity,” Dr. Waring said. “We’ve been incredibly blessed by our friends and mentors who have taught us the importance of prioritizing our family, by our profession, which brought us together, and by my father for not letting Karolinne get away.”

Contact information

: karolinnemaia@gmail.com
Waring: georgewaringiv@gmail.com

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