Looking back on the military service of Sarah Eccles-Brown, M.D.

Florida native Sarah Eccles-Brown, M.D. is passionate about her community and her country.

Prior to her current role as board-certified ophthalmologist and partner at Elmquist Eye Group, Sarah served as a Major in the U.S. Air Force for four years at Eglin Air Force Base as a comprehensive ophthalmologist for the 96 Medical Group.

Prior to this, she was stationed for four years at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, where she matched at one of the best ophthalmology residency training programs. During her eight years of active duty service, she provided active duty military members, retirees and their families with clinical and surgical eye care services.

While stationed at Lackland, Sarah spent half her time training at the Army base Fort Sam Houston, which housed a busy Level 1 trauma center and the regional burn center, providing care for a large portion of the state as well as active-duty members injured while deployed. She became familiar and took care of many in the Wounded Warriors Unit.

Among her favorite experiences in the military was being able to save the sight of soldiers who had burns or chemical exposure to their eyes by implanting amniotic membranes. “We would often see these patients daily, coming in on the weekends to ensure they were getting better. The healing properties of amniotic membranes can be sight-saving,” she said.

“I am honored to have had the privilege of taking care of our active-duty members and those who have been wounded abroad. Being a military doctor is a unique opportunity and unlike what we experience in the civilian world.”

Sarah discovered at a young age that she was meant to be an ophthalmologist, inspired by a high school guidance counselor who was very vocal about how LASIK eye surgery had changed her life. Sarah chose to research the history of refractive eye surgery for her senior project, and, as part of her research, interviewed local ophthalmologists as well as their patients. Her purpose in life became clear when she learned how rewarding it is to help people see better.

After high school, Sarah went on to Florida State University, graduating magna cum laude with two bachelor’s degrees in Biological Science and Psychology in 2004. She then earned her medical doctorate from New York Medical College in 2008.

At the advice of her father, a retired U.S. Naval officer, Sarah entered the military reserves while in medical school, taking advantage of the Health Professions Scholarship Program. She attended Officer Training School while in medical school, but became active duty upon initiating her residency and ophthalmology, training at the San Antonio Uniform Services Health Education Consortium.

“Not only was I learning to become a doctor, but I was learning to become an officer and what it really meant to be an officer in the Air Force,” she said. “Learning to be a doctor and taking care of people is wonderful, eye-opening and life-changing. So is learning to become an officer and a leader – to put integrity first, service before self and have excellence in all we do and seeing these traits lived out in the people around you every day.”

In 2012, she served as a team member of the U.S. Air Force Mobile Ophthalmic Surgery Team. She traveled to Pisco, Peru, to provide needed ophthalmic medical services to the Peruvian population. During this time, she completed numerous surgical and laser procedures for members of this community to both restore and preserve vision.

Sarah joined Elmquist Eye Group in 2016 and has since been serving patients and their families with the excellent level of eye care she strived to provide throughout her military career. She works tirelessly to provide each patient with the same high-quality care she would want provided for her own family member, which has helped her excel as part of the Elmquist Eye Group team. In 2018, she took on a larger role as lead surgeon on behalf of the practice, providing patients with a number of surgical services.

Sarah is joined by a team of veterans at Elmquist Eye Group. Three out of four doctors in the practice have military backgrounds.

The founder, Dr. E. Trevor Elmquist, served as a Major in the Air Force and completed his ophthalmology training at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Chief of the Ophthalmology clinic at Homestead Air Force Base. Dr. Kate Wagner was a Captain in the United States Army Medical Service Corps., stationed at Fort Bragg with a deployment to Iraq.

“I am proud to have served my country and now it’s an honor to serve my neighbors and community through my role at Elmquist Eye Group,” Sarah said. “Furthermore, I’m glad to be joined by a team that shares the same values of service and commitment to providing the highest quality of care for our patients.”

Sarah continues to be recognized for her impact, both personally and professionally. Most recently, she was named a 2018 “Notable Nole” by Florida State University’s Alumni Association, which recognizes young graduates making significant contributions to their professions, communities or alma mater. Selected out of hundreds of alumni nominations, Sarah was inducted into an elite group of less than 200 Notable Noles named since 2012.

Sarah has enjoyed living in Southwest Florida for the past three years. She and her husband Tony have been married for 15 years and are the proud parents of 5-year-old twin boys and a 2-year-old son. Their family is involved in Riverside Church of Fort Myers and Sarah shares her love of music by singing with the choir.

In her free time, she cycles on her Peloton, participates in running competitions and does yoga. She loves that the region provides her family with endless opportunities for fun, as they regularly enjoy running, traveling, paddle-boarding and all water activities as a family.

To learn more about Sarah and Elmquist Eye Group, visit www.Elmquist.com.