Stephen Updegraff, M.D.

Tampa Ophthalmologist, Stephen Updegraff, M.D.

Stephen Updegraff, M.D., FACS is one of the most experienced LASIK and refractive surgeons in the world. Having performed the first LASIK in Asia and the third in the US in 1994, Dr. Updegraff has been intimately involved in developing the precision of LASIK and its refinement.

The excellent patented Updegraff LASIK procedure has been demonstrated with tens of thousands of patients over the last decade.

Dr. Updegraff is not only Board Certified by The American Board of Ophthalmology, he recently obtained re-certification in his sub-specialty – a mark of commitment to continuing education and staying current by being reviewed by his colleagues.

He received the “Achievement Award” by the American Academy of Ophthalmology in 2000. He is one of a handful of “super-specialists” having received specialty “fellowship” training in Cornea and Anterior Segment Surgery beyond a standard Eye Residency. He continues to be selected as a Castle Connolly Top Doctor, a prestigious award recognized by peers, with his most recent in 2022.

During his fellowship, he was part of a team of ophthalmologists responsible for introducing LASIK to the world. Following his training, he was involved with clinical trials on lasers for refractive surgery. He has lectured and been published extensively on LASIK and Refractive Surgery worldwide.

Dr. Updegraff holds five U.S. LASIK patents and he develops instruments and techniques that are in use across the world by other doctors. Many manufacturers seek his expertise in evaluating developing technologies.

More than a talented surgeon, Dr. Steve Updegraff is a caregiver and patient advocate investing time in educating, training, and improving awareness about how to increase safety and improve outcomes for patients. This has been demonstrated by his direct involvement in peer review meetings and publications.

He received a “Best Paper” award for a peer review session on LASIK Complications and Management at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery in San Francisco, April 2009. He is licensed in Florida.

In June of 2007, Dr. Updegraff was awarded the Kritzinger Refractive Surgery Lecture Award for longstanding contributions to Refractive Surgery. The distinguished honor was presented at the ISRS/SASCRS International Symposium in Cape Town, South Africa. Award recipients have all made significant contributions to refractive surgery. Dr. Updegraff is known as a talented surgeon, researcher, lecturer, educator, humanitarian, and environmentalist. The award notes that Dr. Updegraff is an: innovator, original thinker, high energy, with perseverance and leadership.

Certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology, the National Board of Medical Examiners, and is Florida State licensed Dr. Updegraff holds five U.S. patents for LASIK technique and technology.

Having received his Bachelor of Science degree in biology at Eckerd College and his medical degree at Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine, Dr. Updegraff trained with and has now become an elite ophthalmic surgeon. He completed an Internal Medicine internship at Louisiana State University School of Medicine – Charity Hospital, New Orleans.

After a four-year ophthalmology residency at the famous LSU Eye Center, New Orleans “Dateline” covered the first excimer laser procedure in the US with Marguerite McDonald MD – a close mentor of Dr. Updegraff’s.

While at the LSU Eye Center Dr. Updegraff had the opportunity to be influenced and guided by many other experts, such as Gholam Peyman, MD, Herbert Kaufman, MD, and Charles Casebeer, MD. The greatest opportunity for Dr. Updegraff came when he was accepted as Dr. Stephen Slade’s first fellow at the Hermann Eye Center, University of Texas, Houston. Dr. Slade was a pioneer in Keratomileusis (a corneal shaping procedure only a handful of surgeons the world over could do.)

In spite of Dr. Updegraff’s exceptional eye residency and the lure of heading into private practice – he was inspired to learn more about the possibilities of reshaping the cornea by combining the techniques of Keratomileusis with the excimer laser.

Both Dr. Updegraff and Dr. Slade were impressed by the work of an Italian ophthalmologist, Lucio Burratto MD who was just beginning to explore this combination. Luis Ruiz MD of Bogota, Colombia, and Dr. Slade co-sponsored Dr. Updegraff’s fellowship. During this time, Dr. Updegraff collected the data and examined thousands of patients with the revolutionary “LASIK” procedure.

Dr. Updegraff presented their landmark results at the American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting in the fall of 1994, where soon after, he performed the third LASIK in the US under an FDA clinical trial.

The patient traveled to Houston from St. Petersburg to have the surgery and is still a patient of Dr. Updegraff’s. He then had the opportunity to travel, teach, and lecture throughout the world with Dr. Slade’s encouragement.

During this time he performed the first LASIK in Asia and proceeded to have LASIK himself. From the time he graduated from college in 1984, he had invested 11 years to become a highly trained “super-specialist” in refractive surgery.

Since entering private practice in 1995, Dr. Updegraff continued to be involved in advancing the field, but most importantly he fine-tuned a “patient experience” like no other. As a patient himself, he has always felt that education and good information are the key ingredients to making an informed decision. Knowing LASIK is not appropriate for everyone, he has maintained his skills in all areas of refractive surgery from endothelial transplantation to cataract surgery.

As both the principal and clinical investigator and surgeon in clinical research programs at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, the Black Hills Regional Eye Institute, and the University of Texas, Dr. Updegraff has been part of a select few to be a respected contributor and educator in the field.

He participated in clinical studies sponsored by Chiron Vision Corporation as well as served on the LSU Eye Center Excimer Laser Team. In addition, Dr. Updegraff has been the primary clinical investigator in six other clinical research projects at various sites across the United States since 1988.

A committed educator and patient advocate he has presented his research and shared his experience with LASIK professionals worldwide. Dr. Updegraff has presented and directed LASIK courses for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, International Society for Refractive Surgeons, and the American Society of Cornea and Refractive Surgery.

He has been a LASIK course instructor for the International Society for Refractive Surgeons and an educational consultant for Bausch and Lomb Laser Division. He also has been involved in Intraocular lens implant and corneal transplantation research and development – helping improve techniques and instrumentation for better patient outcomes.

Dr. Updegraff is a native of St. Petersburg, Florida, and he and his wife, Betsy, have three daughters. He loves stand-up paddleboarding and Flyfishing.

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