Eyes on Hollywood: Ophthalmologist finds success in high-profile media projects

September 1, 2008

Rolando Toyos, MD, surgeon and founder of Toyos Clinic in Memphis, TN, is a well-known local personality. He has been in television commercials for his own clinic and appears on local news to discuss issues related to ophthalmology.

When Memphis-based FedEx wanted to cast a "cocky young professional" for a batch of commercials, they thought of Dr. Toyos.

He is now starring as "Derek" in three online commercials for FedEx Kinko's Print Online (http:// http://emails.fedex.com/) and hopes this work will lead to other opportunities, such as TV, video production, and media.

"Our commercials get a good response," he said. "They are mostly funny."

Dr. Toyos also is the ophthalmologist for the Memphis NBA team, the Grizzlies. Sitting courtside garners a lot of exposure for him. Local basketball personalities have appeared in ads for his clinic. One successful spot featured a referee who seemed to need LASIK.

When the FedEx production people called, Dr. Toyos jumped at the chance to do the work.

"It was a fun experience," he said. "I learned the script for the character, Derek. I spent hours saying the same things over and over. It's burned in my memory! There were so many funny outtakes."

As a fitness enthusiast, Dr. Toyos didn't need to get in shape for his starring role.

"I like to work out," he explained. "I think of surgeons as athletes. Our skills in the operating room are impacted by our overall health. Being fit creates longevity and helps us work at a higher level longer."

Dr. Toyos said he picks the brain of the Grizzlies' team trainer about diet, workout techniques, and strength training.

His interest in sports and vision and sports-related eye injuries led Dr. Toyos to found the Sports Ophthalmic Society of the Americas (http:// http://SOSAS.org/). The non-profit organization promotes the art and science of sports ophthalmology by bringing together team ophthalmologists, team optometrists, trainers, and other sports eye-care providers to accumulate learning, promote discussion and development, and educate its members to provide the best possible care. He teaches courses on sports ophthalmology and enjoys working with athletes to improve performance through better vision.

Dr. Toyos is currently producing a sports vision video that consists of on-court and field vision drills, which he developed in conjunction with professional athletes like Jason Phillips (former catcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and a Toyos LASIK patient).

This ophthalmologist has always recognized his creative side and thinks it contributes to his success as a surgeon. Originally from California, Dr. Toyos recalled making videos for fun in college at the University of California, Berkeley. He also wrote plays.

One of his favorite productions was for an annual challenge cup at the annual meeting of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery where he created a spoof of a rap video to both entertain and educate about LASIK. The piece was called "Baby's Got Flaps."

Dr. Toyos is heading for the west coast now, becoming a bicoastal ophthalmologist. In addition to his work at his Memphis clinic, Dr. Toyos will practice part-time in Los Angeles. He looks forward to any work "in the industry" that might come his way there. Dr. Toyos also hopes that on the West Coast he might have an opportunity to be involved with another NBA team-the LA Lakers.