To say 1976 was the year Dr. Alex Azar started practicing ophthalmology in Salisbury, would be an understatement. It was the same year Dr. Azar introduced microscopic eye surgery to Peninsula Regional Medical Center, performed the first intraocular lens implant and the first trabeculectomy for glaucoma in Salisbury. And if that wasn’t enough, he became instrumental in shortening the hospital stay for cataract surgery patients from the state average of six days to one and a half days. Today the surgery is an out-patient surgery that takes the surgery staff at Azar Eye Institute just twenty minutes from start to finish.
Long a fixture on the Lower Shore, Dr. Alex Azar earned his bachelor’s and medical degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, graduating magna cum laude. He followed medical school with a brief stint in the U.S. Army as a general medical officer and then completed a residency in preventive medicine at Ohio State University (OSU).
His residency completed, Dr. Azar pursued work as an environmental researcher at DuPont, where he published more than thirty scientific research papers. Some of his research included a treatment plan for people exposed to toxic missile propellant used in the Titan missile system, research showing the cause of death in over two-hundred sniffing deaths in the early 1970’s and one of the most definitive studies of air lead levels in the United States. Dr. Azar also worked directly with the development of gas permeable contact lenses. His work with the contact lens was the catalyst for his returning to OSU to complete a residency in ophthalmology.
It was the right path, as Dr. Azar has continued to practice ophthalmology in Salisbury for more than 30 years. But his work is not confined to the Eastern Shore. Dr. Azar has been teaching medical students at Johns Hopkins for 15 years. His wife, Wilma knows best, as she has been called on many times to stand in as a patient for the medical students to perform eye exams on. Azar’s dedication to teaching and commitment to academic medicine has not gone unnoticed. He recently received the Allan D. Jensen Part-Time Faculty Teaching award for the 2009/2010 academic year. Dr. Azar was nominated for the award by medical students attending the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins.
In addition to being Board Certified in ophthalmology, he is also Board Certified in Preventive Medicine and is listed in the guide to America’s Top Ophthalmologists. He was the first health care professional appointed to the Maryland Health Care Access and Cost Commission by former Governor William Donald Schaefer. Dr. Azar has served as a past president of the Maryland State Medical Society and has been on the Board of Directors of The Center for a Healthy Maryland, the Board of the local YMCA, the Board of the Wicomico Humane Society and more recently the Board of Horizons at The Salisbury School. He has also been active in the Greater Salisbury Committee and is a 32nd degree Mason.
Although Dr. Azar no longer actively treats patients at AEI, he remains an integral part of the AEI family via mentoring our staff and physicians. Dr. Azar remains active in medicine and teaching in other ways as well. He was recently nominated to the TLC board, the large Eastern Shore non-profit community health center, and was also awarded an academic appointment at UMES- Physician Assistant Program.