Dr. Joshua Broadwater has been hooked on treating and curing diseases and helping relieve the suffering of animals – since he got his first microscope at age 12. That passion eventually took on a particular focus – caring for animals’ eyes. Following a residency at the Animal Eye Specialty Clinic in Florida, Dr. Broadwater worked at Lion Country Safari, SeaWorld, and Gumbo Limbo Environmental Complex, where he performed surgery to remove tumors from turtles’ eyes. Broadwater is now an ophthalmologist at CARE, where he has a special interest in cornea disease and surgery, cataract surgery, and glaucoma surgery. “I went into ophthalmology,” he says, “because there’s something so special about relieving the suffering of a dog with a corneal ulcer, or controlling a painful condition such as glaucoma, or removing cataracts from a dog that was blind, and suddenly have them see the world again.”
To constantly learn and grow throughout my career, I take inspiration from two quotes. The first is from my piano teacher who said "If you're not nervous, you're not effective." The second is from a surgeon in vet school who said "If you're not nervous, you don't understand the consequences of your actions." These quotes have inspired me to step up and perform in big moments and to always be aware of the consequences of my actions. Transcript: "Great question. What is the mindset needed to constantly learn and grow throughout your career? I look back through my career as a veterinary ophthalmologist and a very long road to get here. 12 years of school total including undergrad, vet school, residency. And there were some very important points that come to mind to get to this point. Obviously there's a lot of important people in your life that help you to get here. But some of the quotes that I think about that helped me to get here and one was from my piano teacher when I was a kid who would say right before the recitals where I'd be very, very nervous to perform. And my great aunt who was my piano teacher would say, Are you nervous? And I would say, Absolutely. And she would say, Good. If you're not nervous, you're not effective. And it took me a while to understand what that meant, but I took it to mean that you know how big the moment is and you have to step up and be able to perform in that moment. The other big point was a surgeon in vet school who asked the same question and we were going into surgery and said, Are you nervous? Because I was scrubbing in with him and I said, To be honest, I am. He said, Good. Because if you're not nervous, you don't understand the consequences of your actions. And that has always stuck with me and helped me to get to the point I am when I see cases medically, surgically, all of those things. So a couple of important things in my life."
Yes, some vets can make a lot of money depending on the type of vet they are. General vets may make up to $80,000 but specialists such as ophthalmologists, cardiologists and neurologists may make significantly more due to their longer education and higher specialization. Owning a clinic is another way to potentially increase income. Transcript: "Do vets make a lot of money? So this is a complicated answer because there are so many types of vets. One vet is not equal to the next. Even though we all go to the same school and do the same eight years of training, four years of undergrad typically, and four years of vet school, many vets take very different paths and there are general vets, which most people are familiar with, who do the vaccines and the general checkups with your animals, your dogs and cats. There are large animal vets who take care of cows and pigs and goats and sheep. There are equine vets with horses and then there are specialists like myself, which I'm a veterinary ophthalmologist and there's also a cardiologist and neurologist. So the salary really varies between all of those and sometimes can be as low as $60,000, $70,000, $80,000, but can be as high as several hundred thousand dollars. The trick is if you own a clinic, you may be taking more risk to buy a clinic and try to make more of a higher salary. If you're a specialist, you may make more money as well, but you have to go to school a lot longer, maybe three or four years longer than some general vets. So yes, you can make good money in the veterinary field, but it may take a longer path to get there."
Dogs do see in color, but they have difficulty distinguishing red and green. They can easily distinguish blues and yellows, so when picking out toys for your dog, you should opt for blue or yellow ones. Transcript: "This is a great question. Can dogs see in color? The age-old myth is that dogs do not see in color. They see black and white. That's actually not true. So research suggests that dogs are similar to people that are red-green colorblind or what's considered deuteranopic, meaning they have a difficult time distinguishing red and green, but they tend to see blues and yellows much better. Those are the receptors in their eyes that they have that they can distinguish blues, yellows, and shades similar to those, but red and green may be much more difficult for them. So when you're picking out those toys for your dogs, research suggests that the ball that's blue, the ball that's yellow, they're going to be able to see those and distinguish those much better than, let's say, toys that are red-green, things like that. So yeah, dogs do actually see in color, research shows."
If your dog has sand in their eyes, you can use an over-the-counter eye wash solution or lubricating gel to rinse and lubricate the eyes. Transcript: "So the question is, I think I got sand in my dog's eyes. How can I rinse them? So this happens a lot where dogs go out for walks either on the beach or out in the woods and they get various debris, sand, dirt in their eyes. A couple simple things that you can do. So you can go to your local CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, any of those pharmacies and pick up something called iWash or eye irrigating solution. You don't wanna get contact lens cleaner or anything like that, just a simple iWash. And what you would want to do is gently hold their eyelids open and just take that bottle and lightly flush into each eye for maybe about five to 10 seconds and then wipe away around the eye with a paper towel or a washcloth or something like that. And that would hopefully remove any of the debris that's on the eye. You can also use an over-the-counter lubricating gel. The best ones usually have hyaluronic acid and some examples of those would be Genteel Gel, Sustain. There's also Refresh. Any of those can be used to lubricate the eyes and you don't need a prescription for those and those may be soothing to the eye to help them get over this episode. If they have any other issues where they're squinting or seem to be uncomfortable, may be good to visit a veterinarian."
A block tear duct looks like excessive wetness or staining below the eye and is diagnosed with a tear duct flush, x-rays, or a CT scan to find and fix the blockage. Transcript: "What does a blocked tear duct look like? In dogs, the most common way that these blocked tear ducts will present is usually with abnormal staining below, typically just one eye, as the blockage may just be one eye. You can occasionally see it in both eyes, but you'll see either excessive wetness or tearing below the eye or staining, where the fur looks much darker, so either brown or dark red in appearance, and that may be a clue that we have a blockage. The tear duct itself starts on the inner part of the lower lid at this area called the tear puncta. There's actually two of them, one up here, one down here, and then it actually goes down the tear duct into the nose, and then tears eventually just slowly come out the nose that we just don't realize it over time, and so a blockage could occur anywhere along that course, from anywhere up here near the tear puncta all the way down through the nose as well. So if we have a suspicion of a blockage, we may actually do a tear duct flush to see if it is blocked and nothing's coming out the nose, and then if that seems to be the case, then the next step may be further testing to image this area with either X-rays or a CT scan to try to see if we can find where the blockage may be and if that's something that we could treat and fix so that we can resolve it."
Mistakes are a natural part of life and it can be difficult to move past them. As a medical professional, it is important to learn from mistakes so that they don't happen again. However, it is essential to remember that everyone is in the medical field to do good and help others, which should motivate you to move forward. Transcript: "How can you let mistakes go in order to move forward? Boy, it's such a tough part of life because mistakes happen and we all make mistakes. We're all human and and despite those mistakes we have to continue to move forward and many of these mistakes when we think about them are usually in our career and speaking as a veterinary ophthalmologist, so one of the or two of the things that you would see where mistakes could happen is misdiagnosing an animal with the wrong condition. The other place where mistakes could happen would be in surgery when you're performing surgery and a mistake happens and these things are few and far between but they happen to everybody, to every veterinarian, to every physician that's out there and unfortunately it's a part of life and it's hard to get past and and I think as a medical professional we shouldn't move past it right away. We should learn from these mistakes so that hopefully they never happen again but having said that we have to remember that we are all in this field to do good and to do the right thing and to help humanity either helping animals see better like I do or physicians to help cure diseases with people and you just have to remember that you're here for the right reason and we're all human mistakes are going to happen but you're here to do good."