A wife and mother of three daughters with a dog named, Auge – the German word for “eyeball,” Dr. Melissa Toyos encompasses her passion for ophthalmology and the eye in her successful, unique career, as well as her home life. Toyos Clinic is a family affair and her daughters like spending time helping her and her husband in the Toyos Clinic and have ambitions to become ophthalmologists as well.
Originally from Louisiana and labeling herself a “true southern girl,” Dr. Toyos moved to Kansas City where she worked as the first and only female partner at Discover Vision Centers – the third largest ophthalmology center in the country. In 2014, she moved to Nashville where her husband, Dr. Rolando Toyos – a renowned ophthalmologist – specializes in dry eye and LASIK procedures. The duo has deeply invested themselves into their rapidly growing ophthalmology practice.
Originally from California and a skilled athlete, Rolando excelled academically as well. Before beginning medical school, he worked as a high school teacher and basketball coach. He won the National Teaching Award from Columbia University for his development of the science curriculum, as well as his work with at-risk children. He graduated from the University of Illinois Medical School where he was class president and a James Scholar. He received a community service award for assisting the Chicago City Public Schools for developing a pre-med program and book for students interested in pursuing a career in medicine.
The Toyos Clinic was founded in Memphis in 1998. Rolando was recruited for an ophthalmology position in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Jackson Madison Medical Center in Jackson, Tennessee. There, Rolando was the ophthalmologist for 10 years and became the medical director of the Jackson Madison Surgery Center. When the Memphis Grizzlies offered him a position as the team’s ophthalmologist, Rolando decided to open his own clinic and served the Grizzlies for many years.
The Toyos Clinic has continued to expand to five other locations, including two in Nashville and one in Franklin and Southaven. Melissa and Rolando both work in the Nashville office (located on Crestmoor Road), which Melissa says is ideal for their booming business.
The clinic specializes in vision, optical and facial cosmetic surgery. The vision component encompasses medical and surgical eye care, such as cataract surgery, glaucoma, dry eye, wavelight LASIK and more. Optical includes general eye exams for contacts and glasses and exclusive lines of frames like Shamballa, Zero G and Chloe. Facial cosmetic surgeries include laser resurfacing, laser blepharoplasty, Botox, intense pulsed light, a complete line of medical skin care products and much more. Rolando is one of the most experienced surgeons in the country completing over 25,000 cataract and 15,000 LASIK surgeries.
Melissa is also a high-volume cataract surgeon, a national researcher, lecturer and a popular cosmetic surgeon for public figures. Both Rolando and Melissa have been named Premier Surgeons 300 by Ocular Surgery News. Between the two of them, the Toyos Clinic is founded on a strong base of knowledge, experience and doctors who are passionate about helping their patients.
The clinic also has its own research team to conduct various studies. The Toyos research team has won numerous awards and grants such as the Lieberman Award, two ASCRS Foundation Grants, Harold Stein Award, Earl Young Prize and James Scholar Award. Their research has allowed them to develop technology and techniques that are utilized by ophthalmologists all over the world.
Melissa’s passion for the eyes sprouted from a situation – more common than not – where she was having difficulty reading the board in school. She often sat near the front of the classroom, but still couldn’t see clearly. Finally, somebody noticed that the reason she sat near the front was because she couldn’t see the board. Her parents took her to see an ophthalmologist. Upon evaluation, Melissa was fitted with a pair of eyeglasses, which forever changed her perspective, both of the world and of the field of ophthalmology.
“I will never forget the amazement and the feeling of being able to see the world clearly,” Melissa explained. From that day forward, Melissa wanted to pursue a career in the study of the eyes.
During her time as a practicing ophthalmologist, a portion of that time is spent researching new technologies, medicines and procedures, which she explains is crucial to the evolution of her field. Melissa’s research has been used by the FDA to approve medications now readily available in the market. One of the awards she was most proud of receiving was the Charles Lieberman Award and ACRS foundation grant for her original research for glaucoma. Additionally, she has published and edited over 100 publications and speaks regularly at national and international meetings.
It is no doubt that Melissa is devoted to advocating for her patients, as well as the field of ophthalmology. Among her many accomplishments, she was former president of the Missouri Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, twice elected deputy section leader of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and voted one of Kansas City’s Most Influential Women for her community work. The Nashville Business Journal recently recognized Toyos Clinic as one of the best businesses in Nashville.
Melissa is devoted to the promotion and evolution of her industry. She emphasized the importance of adaptability and resilience in her field, stating the use of new technology is crucial to the accuracy and effectiveness of the various procedures of the face and eyes. For example, Toyos Clinic uses LASIK eye surgery technology developed in 2015 as opposed to the many in Tennessee who are still using technology from 2007. Melissa, alongside her husband and the other Toyos Clinic professionals, helps train doctors in their annual “Dry Eyes and Aesthetics Training” in Nashville. This year, they are presenting ground-breaking research on using regenerative medicine for dry eye sufferers and the new Botox, MIXTOLaserLift.
Apart from the lectures she provides and research she conducts, Melissa, as well as the Toyos Clinic, have not only served, but given back to their local communities. As mentioned before, the Toyos Clinic teaches doctors from all over the world. The Toyos Clinic offers successful and unique systems and techniques in the field of ophthalmology, for which these doctors from over 20 countries come to study and observe. Clinic internships through Southern College of Optometry and the University of Illinois Medical School are another part of the Toyos Clinic’s giving back.
Over the years, the Toyos Clinic has also given generous donations amounting to over $1 million in money, services and care. They emphasize that lack of insurance should never be the reason a patient is denied treatment of their eyes. Actively involved in the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Eye Care America Project, a program where those uninsured receive free exams through the Toyos Clinic and the Toyos’ set up the Toyos Foundation, which provides eye care for many in the Nashville community.
With the help of churches, professional sports teams and community organizations, the Toyos Clinic has been able to serve many mission trips. Rolando is a former teacher, so both he and the Toyos Clinic partner with local schools to provide lectures and financial support.
Their great enthusiasm and undying passion for the anatomy, research and education of the eyes throughout their local, national and global communities, the Toyos Clinic has received many awards for giving back including a Humanitarian Award, Business Partner Award and the Ronald Reagan Award.
Skyline Medical Center, Nashville, TN
Residency, University of Missouri, Kansas City
Doctor of Medicine, Louisiana State University
Bachelor of Science, Louisiana State University
American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Society of Cataract Physicians and Surgeons
American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Foundation Research Grant
Kansas City’s Most Influential Women
Women Who Mean Business
Charles Lieberman Award