Dr. Richard A. Cross is celebrating thirty years of his optometry practice in Gunbarrel this year. Dr. Cross has helped many people throughout his career, both here in the Boulder area and through the eye care institute he launched in Jamaica twenty-seven years ago. That is enough time to treat generations of people. "I'm seeing the children's children of patients," he observed. Dr. Cross grew up in Mason, Michigan, which is about twenty minutes from Michigan State University in East Lansing. His mother left her home in Jamaica to study microbiology at MSU. His father was at MSU studying art. Dr. Cross developed his connection to his mother's homeland from an early age. "I got to spend summers with my grandparents [in Jamaica] growing up." "I was always interested in vision," Dr. Cross explained. "In the ninth grade I got my first eye exam. Prior to that I had been striking out in softball. Then once I got my first pair of glasses I was no longer striking out. I became fascinated with vision and how it worked." He wanted to get into healthcare and thought that it would be a nice field. After graduating from university, Dr. Cross began to work for Dr. Jane Wolford in Longmont. After a rewarding learning experience, he decided to open his own practice. He had met the brothers George and Everett Williams (for whom Williams Village at CU is named) while a college student. They wanted an optometrist in this area and were happy to have him relocate from Michigan. "I was torn between opening in Michigan and opening in Boulder," he said, "and was afflicted with Chief Niwot's curse... I lived in Niwot for a while." Having grown up in a small town, he decided on Gunbarrel because he liked the small town feel outside of downtown Boulder. Dr. Cross has been successful in part because of his ability to adapt to many changes in the technology of the field. "It has been a fun career," he said. "In a lot of ways some of the devices that we have almost make you think of Star Trek because things have come along so much." He continued, "it's been rewarding to be a part of that." The business has been a great experience and he has been assisted by a stellar staff over the years. The connection to Jamaica strengthened early in his career. Dr Cross explained, "It started when Dr. Wolford volunteered me to go with a group to Jamaica as an interpreter because of my ties. I was thinking that since they spoke English I would do pretty well as an interpreter." The group of doctors made three trips there to focus on eye care for Jamaicans. They always had to turn away as many people as they were able to help. "Out of that was born the Eye Health Institute, and we have been going back every year since 1996," he said. It's been a labor of love and dedication because running this nonprofit has been quite a workload on top of running the business in Gunbarrel. The Eye Health Institute partnered with the University of Michigan to develop a modular clinic that can be dropped anywhere in the world to be used for eye care, dental care and eye surgeries. One was deployed in Jamaica for eye primary care. Two more were developed but are currently being used exclusively for eye surgery in Jamaica while their hospital is temporarily closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteer doctors and interns from the US, Canada and Puerto Rico visit Jamaica to work in the clinics. It has been a great work experience for the interns. Dr. Cross explained, "Many of the interns come back as doctors to teach the interns in subsequent years." The nonprofit collects donations of equipment, medicine and money to support the work. Dr. Cross plans to expand on his work in the future. He would like to bring on an associate, giving him more time for the research that has come out of his work, and to offer more specialties in his practice. He is always recruiting more volunteers for Jamaica. "[I would] love to have some non-medical volunteers go with us," he said. He would like someone to take photos, do interviews and write the story of their work. "[Gunbarrel] has been a great place to be a part of," Dr. Cross said. He will continue to be a source of compassionate care for many people both here and in Jamaica.
Dr. Richard A. Cross is celebrating thirty years of his optometry practice in Gunbarrel this year.
Dr. Cross has helped many people throughout his career, both here in the Boulder area and through the eye care institute he launched in Jamaica twenty-seven years ago. That is enough time to treat generations of people. "I'm seeing the children's children of patients," he observed.
Dr. Cross grew...