Board-Certified Ophthalmologist, Retina Surgeon
It’s all about Family.
When John Lehr, M.D., first met with the doctors whom he would someday call his partners, he knew he had found a family.
Born in New York, Dr. Lehr’s family soon moved to Miami where his dad, a cardiologist, started his private practice. The real reason for the move was his mom wanted to return to be near her side of the family, sort of a recurring theme consistent with young John Lehr as well.
Early on, Dr. Lehr knew he wanted to be a doctor. After school on many days, John and his sister would ride the school bus and get off as they passed elder Dr. Lehr’s office and stop in and spend the afternoon.
“We got to know the patients. We knew them by name and they sort of got used to the fact that we were a family and families just do things together. Even if it meant sitting in a doctor’s office waiting on dad.” Dr. Lehr, fondly recalls. “But, I liked the interaction and I liked how people were there to see dad and they trusted what he could do to make their lives better. It was an amazing thing to watch.”
With an eye on medicine, Dr. Lehr attended Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, a return to his birth area. His love of New York grew out of the many visits his family made to the region and an opportunity to get back and study at the prestigious college was too hard to pass up. During summers off, he would return home and work in research at the University of Miami College of Pharmacology.
“We did research on Calcium Channel Blockers,” he explains. “This was a crucial area of concentration in medicine that I was thrilled to be part of since that was an area that my
dad worked in. It really opened my eyes to how the role of research results in lives saved and how we can directly improve every aspect of medicine.”
Later, during medical school, Dr. Lehr would work in research in the Department of Immunology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. His concentration in immunology helped him develop a fascination at the possibilities for the diagnosis of a multitude of conditions right inside the eye.
Dr. Lehr graduated from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Vassar College with Research Distinction. During his Residency at New York Eye & Ear Infirmary in New York City, Dr. Lehr would soon be united with distinguished professor and Medical Retina Specialist Dr. Joseph Walsh, the Residency Chairman. He followed him closely and learned that becoming a Retina Specialist would be his calling.
“The eye is an incredible organ, really, a sacred site that houses unlimited immunological activities,” explains Dr. Lehr. “It’s really the only part of the body where you can view veins, arteries, and nerve endings, just as they are without an incision.”
While working with Retina Specialists in the Miami area, most notably with Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Dr. Lehr began to hone in on his path toward research and treatment. “Many diseases can expose themselves in the eye and, to me, that was a correlation to what I was researching in immunology and what I later decided to do as a specialty,” he continues. Working with Retina Specialists in Miami and later Dr. Walsh allowed me to connect what I was doing in immunology and what I now wanted to do in Ophthalmology, most notably, Retina.”
After his fellowship training as a retina specialist, Dr. Lehr decided to return home to the family. A flight into Orlando to meet with future partners at Magruder Eye Institute, a tour of the facilities, and another meeting later that day, Dr. Lehr jumped at the opportunity to join the practice.
“I had a second dinner with the partners after my tour of the facilities,” he recalls. “They offered me on the spot and I accepted on the spot. That next morning, I grabbed a blanket from the hotel in Winterpark and went out by the fountain. I read over my contract and signed it. It was a beautiful day and I couldn’t think of a better place to spend the rest of my life.”
Dr. and Mrs. Brock Magruder were instrumental to his coming to the practice and later, introducing him to his wife, Katie.
“I consider the entire Magruder Eye Institute as part of my family,” he explains. “Without Dr. Brock Magruder and his wife, I wouldn’t be here nor would I have my beautiful family. To me, this is my home and I cherish every moment here.”
Today, Dr. Lehr treats patients for a variety of eye conditions, most notably diseases involving the retina. He diagnoses and treats patients through medical management and laser surgery.
“My favorite part of working with patients here at Magruder Eye Institute is working in the clinic,” explains Dr. Lehr. “I love meeting new patients, learning of their visual challenges, and doing my best to diagnose and treat even the most difficult of conditions.”
Retina disease is prevalent in Central Florida. Some of the more common diseases are Diabetic Retinopathy, Torn Retina, Macular Degeneration, Retinitis Pigmentosa, and many more. Magruder Eye Institute uses the most advanced diagnostic and laser treatment options.
“Retina diseases are, many times, chronic in that we simply cannot offer a full cure,” explains Dr. Lehr. “But, I look forward to coming to work every day and hope that I can offer maybe a second chance at vision for my patients and prolong what vision they do have. I feel blessed to be trusted by so many patients who are, many times, at the end of the line when it comes to vision. It is my goal to treat each one as though they are part of my family.”
Family is always important to Dr. Lehr. “My wife and kids are my life,” says Dr. Lehr. “We love to travel, I love to coach the kids in sports and we just generally are a close family.” Dr. Lehr is an avid golfer, plays tennis, and often gets the urge to read up on new trends in technology. But, his family, both at home, at the office, and as far away as New York and Miami, are what defines Dr. John Lehr.
To Dr. Lehr, it’s all about family.