News & Updates

Tennessee, broken glasses, one cold day .... and Syracuse

By Sean Kirst |

My colleagues and I often joke about how it seems as if Syracuse is everyplace, in the sense that wherever you go or whatever you write, there's always some unexpected Central New York connection .... whether it involves such luminaries as F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Eric Carle ....

Or everyday moments and everyday lives.

Case in point.

(By the way: After I tell this "small world" tale, I'm hoping you'll have some for me.)

I traveled today to Tennessee - to a little town called Crossville - in anticipation of Saturday's memorial service for Earl Lloyd.

Earl, a basketball Hall of Famer who played for years with the old Syracuse Nationals, died in late February. We were friends for many years, and we worked on a book together, Moonfixer, in which Earl - the first African-American play in the National Basketball Association - told the story of his life.

In Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, on the way here, a lens popped out of my glasses. If you wear glasses, you know what that means: I had no backup pair, and my seeing is lousy enough that the situation shaped up - hundreds of miles from home - as a major problem. I wedged the lens into the frame, the lens kept popping out, and sooner or later I knew I'd do something wrong, and break the glasses.

So the first thing I did when I got to Crossville, after dropping my stuff at a hotel, was to hunt through a phone book - yes, a phone book - in hopes of maybe finding a way to get them fixed. It was late afternoon, and the only place I could find that was open was called the Eye Centers of Tennessee. I went in and explained to the young woman at the desk what had happened, and why I was there - this was the first person I'd really spoken with at any length in Crossville - and she said, sure, they could do something to help.

Besides, she'd known Earl.

She'd met him at a doctor's office where she worked, and he'd come in sometimes with his wife Charlie. She said she feels the same way as everyone around Crossville: Earl was a beautiful guy, warm and funny and gentle, and she'd heard he'd passed away, and that was sad news for the whole town.

The temperature outside was dropping fast, and the meteorologists on a television in the office were talking about their fear that the cold would kill off fragile blossoms. As the woman fixed my glasses, I said it surprised me how cold it was getting, and that it reminded me of our March weather, back home in Syracuse.

"Syracuse?" the woman said.

She used to live there.

No way, I told her. But it turns out her mother, Debra Mays, is from Galeville. Her grandmother, Frances Cole, lived in a house on Old Liverpool Road until her death, less than a year ago. The young woman spent a few childhood years at that address with her mom and grandmother, and she said missed the Coney's - or white hot dogs - she used to get up there.

She went to Chestnut Hill Elementary School, and she remembered "how we'd get three feet of snow and still go to school, and if we get any snow at all down here, they close school down."

Then she moved with her mother to Florida, and they later settled in Tennessee, where she happened to meet Earl Lloyd ....

Who made history, 60 years ago next month, on an NBA championship team in Syracuse.

Small world? Sometimes, it's peanut-sized. The woman's name, it turns out, is Erin Gunter. When I left, I promised I'd write that she says hello to Galeville. Then I drove away, wearing a pair of thank-God-they're-repaired glasses, thinking about tomorrow's memorial service for a great man who passed through our town ....

And wondering: What were the odds of all of it coming together, just like that?

Yet I'll bet, if you travel, you've got the same kind of stories ....

Because sometimes it seems like you find Syracuse, everyplace.

Eye Centers of Tennessee Featured On In View by Larry King

Larry King The In View production crew was in Crossville on Tuesday, December 10th to film Dr. Larry Patterson and his staff as they performed laser cataract surgery with the new LenSx Femtosecond Laser. This new state-of-the-art technology has proven to be more efficient with better, more predictable visual outcomes than conventional surgery. This is an exciting advancement in the treatment of cataracts, and something that In View wants to share with its viewers.

Laser cataract surgery is comfortably performed under topical anesthesia with oral sedation. Once the eye is perfectly aligned, a detailed scan is made of the cornea and lens of the eye. The orientation, size and shape of the main incisions are programmed into the computer and then precisely etched into the cornea with the laser. Astigmatism is treated by programming the specific treatment and then perfectly creating the incisions required. This precision helps to improve the visual outcome post-operatively.

The laser delivers a series of pulses to a pre-designed pattern based on the density of the cataract. The cataract is precisely fragmented with the laser. This additional step has been shown to reduce the average time and energy required to remove the cataract by 50% or more, which can lead to quicker visual recovery and reduced inflammation. Dr. Patterson was the first surgeon in east Tennessee to offer this procedure to his patients.

Laser cataract surgeries are conducted inside the Cataract and Laser Center located on the lower level of Eye Centers of Tennessee in Crossville. For additional information about laser cataract surgery please contact Eye Centers of Tennessee at 931-456-2728.

Eye Centers of Tennessee Now Offering Comprehensive Diagnostic Hearing Evaluations

Vision and hearing are your two most important senses. Together, they create the three dimensional perception of the world around you. In 2011, ECOTN began offering hearing screenings to our patients to extend our services beyond vision. As of 2014, we have transformed our hearing clinic into a full service audiology clinic. With a Board Certified Doctor of Audiology located in our Crossville office, we will be able to serve your individual hearing needs. Our services include diagnostic exams, dispensing of digital hearing aids, assistive listening devices and custom earplugs, tinnitus management, and cleaning and servicing of hearing devices. When Dr. Patterson was asked about his goals for the new services, he said, "Eye Centers of Tennessee is dedicated to providing people with a better quality of life, it just makes sense to provide hearing services."

Hearing loss can change your personality and affect your relationships with others. Untreated hearing loss is linked to clinical depression, social withdrawal and isolation, and fears about activities and situations that used to seem normal. The good news is, there is help! If you or someone you know is dealing with a hearing problem, call our Crossville location to schedule an appointment with our audiologist today.

Eye surgeons offer bladeless cataract surgery

Dr. Larry E. Patterson, M.D. of Eye Centers of Tennessee is the first and only physician in East Tennessee to begin offering a bladeless laser cataract removal procedure to their patients. "I have been performing cataract surgery for my patients in the local area for more than 20 years and am excited to begin offering the Femtosecond laser for cataract removal. This new technology provides a more advanced manner by which to perform several steps of the procedure," said Patterson. "Our adoption of this technology is a testament to our dedication to offering the most advanced technology as an option for the patients in our community." This Femtosecond laser signifies a bold leap forward in cataract surgery by bringing image-guided computer precision to refractive cataract surgeons. The system performs surgery according to surgeon preferences, using focused laser pulses to create incisions in the lens capsule, crystalline lens and the cornea. This results in treatments that are tailored to surgeon specifications and may deliver a remarkable degree of accuracy, there-by extending the surgeon's expertise with laser precision. Surgeons utilizing this new technology will be able to create predictable openings that carry through subsequent steps of cataract surgery as it helps them deliver on a targeted refractive outcome. "I am thrilled to be the first in the area to perform refractive cataract surgery, astigmatic correction and presbyopia correction utilizing this advancement in predictability, precision and efficiency for patients throughout the Upper Cumberland and East Tennessee area," said Patterson. Eye Centers of Tennessee is an Upper Cumberland area-based ophthalmology practice, specializing in total eye care. For more information regarding this new and exciting procedure, please contact Ray Mays, administrator, at 456-2550 or online at


Dr. Larry Patterson has performed thousands of laser vision corrections with outstanding success.


We proudly offer several cosmetic treatments including Latisse, and NeoStrata.

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