WILKES-BARRE — Before establishing himself as one of the nation’s premier eye surgeons, Dr. Frank Bucci carved up the competition on the hardwood.
Growing up in northern New Jersey, Bucci helped lead his high school hoops team to an appearance in the state finals. A full basketball scholarship followed at Florida’s Rollins College, where Bucci captained a squad that was among the top Division II programs in the nation.
An athletics career didn’t pan out for the avid sports fan, but Bucci still finds himself tops in the nation in another category as an expert in ophthalmology.
The 64-year-old Bucci has performed nearly 28,000 microsurgical ophthalmic procedures, published dozens of articles in medical literature and has been at the forefront of the technology since its inception.
Bucci Laser Vision, the eye institute and surgery center Bucci founded in Wilkes-Barre in 1998, was named the Times Leader Readers’ Choice award winner for the third consecutive year.
Bucci, who also operates a large not-for-profit ophthalmology center in Lima, Peru, said winning the award solidifies the emphasis the institute puts on patient care.
“To me, it reinforces that our patients believe we’re delivering for the community,” Bucci said of the award from inside the eye institute’s state-of-the-art operating room.
If a procedure goes off without a hitch and a patient can see more clearly than before, they’ll spread the word, Bucci said, adding the result has a stronger reach than any advertisement could.
“Word of mouth is everything,” Bucci said. Just as important is the institute’s diversity in providing multiple surgeries across the board.
Some specialists perform LASIK but lack in their surgical prowess, while other centers have cataract surgeons who put in implants but don’t specialize in LASIK, Bucci said.
Bucci credits staff members, a “key group of people” who ensure things at the Wilkes-Barre institute run smoothly.
Part of that consistency, he said, is due to an emphasis on education.
Bucci Laser Vision offers free seminars on the ins and outs of procedures, hosted by Bucci himself. During the monthly meetings, attendees can talk to patients who have already had surgeries, Bucci said. If a prospective patient doesn’t want to attend the seminar or can’t make it to one, Bucci offers free one-on-one consultations.
Bucci has also made his mark branching out into philanthropy. In 2003, he co-founded Hospice of the Sacred Heart in Wilkes-Barre. The agency now has 105 employees in nine counties and has served over 11,000 dying people, Bucci said.
Despite a frenetic schedule that has Bucci frequenting flights to Peru, volunteering at the hospice, lecturing around the globe and performing consultations and surgeries that number nearly 30 each day, Bucci’s enthusiasm hasn’t waned.
“I don’t have a job and other activities,” Bucci said. “I have a life, and this is all part of my life.”
Reach Joe Dolinsky at 570-991-6110 or on Twitter @JoeDolinskyTL