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Oregon Retina Specialists will expand into new building

Oregon Retina Specialists is gearing up to build a 4,087-square-foot office on East Barnett Road.

The practice, run by ophthalmologist Yujen Wang, has operated in cramped quarters on State Street since 2008. The clinic's 10-person staff has managed to use virtually every inch of available space.

"We've got equipment shoved into a corner of a room and have to move it out into the hallway right now," said office manager Shahrzah Sheibani. "This will help us to be more efficient and streamlined. Right now we operate in about 1,300 square feet with a shared waiting room, so we'll be doubling our space."

The Site Plan and Architectural Commission has approved a single-story building site on a 0.71-acre parcel on the south side of Barnett, midway between Ellendale Drive and Highland Drive.

The majority of the clinic's patients are between 60 and 80, typically suffering from macular degeneration, although younger patients tend to deal with the ramifications of diabetes.

"Those are our major focuses, other than traumas" Sheibani said. "We deal with issues behind the eye you can't fix cosmetically or with glasses; they're more serious issues."

Today's patients benefit from developing treatments and advanced equipment that weren't available when Wang moved to Ashland in 2002.

"In the old days it was more about holding people's hands," Sheibani said. "Every day there is new technology coming out to help our patients. Now we're preserving and bringing vision back."

The bigger challenge is finding a second physician to work alongside Wang. Few ophthalmologists are willing to go back to school for more training as retina specialists after they complete their residency, Sheibani said. Nationally, medical schools produce very few of the specialists annually.

"OHSU, for example might have one or two per year, at most," she said. "Everybody is trying to recruit from the same group of graduates. We are currently working with several companies and recruiting firms, and advertising. We're in a smaller location and everybody is trying to recruit from the same group of people. We don't want people to have to go to Portland or San Francisco for treatment. We want to make sure it can happen here."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.

An artist's rendering of the new Oregon Retina Specialists building on East Barnett.