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SWFL Children’s Charities Eye Institute of Golisano Children’s Hospital to Open August 2

Press Releases


The new pediatric ophthalmology clinic creates more access to care for children in Southwest Florida

(Fort Myers, Fla. – July, 29 2021) --- As a happy and bubbly 4th grader, Cade Lawhon loves his family, friends and playing sports. You’d never know by meeting him that this vivacious nine-year-old has been in treatment for his vision since he was three-years-old.

When Cade was a toddler, he was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), which then led to uveitis – an inflammation of the inner parts of the eye. Untreated, it could cause blindness.

“It was scary, knowing my child could lose his sight,” said Megan Lawhon, Cade’s mother. “We’re so fortunate that Cade’s condition is treatable. He takes regular steroid drops, and we see Dr. Kovarik once a month, sometimes once a week depending on his uveitis. She and her team have really become a second family to us.”

On August 2, SWFL Children’s Charities Eye Institute of Golisano Children’s Hospital will open in Southwest Florida, creating even more access to care for kids just like Cade. The new eye institute will be the largest pediatric ophthalmology office between Tampa and Miami.

“Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida is committed to providing the highest quality of care to our patients, and we are proud to continually expand our services to meet the needs of the community we serve,” said Dr. Emad Salman, vice president of operations & chief physician executive at Golisano Children’s Hospital. “This dedicated space is really going to benefit the children in our region.”

The SWFL Children’s Charities Eye Institute of Golisano Children’s Hospital combines and relocates Lee Health’s current pediatric ophthalmology locations at Medical Plaza One on the HealthPark campus and Bonita Community Health Center into one centralized building that will double the space for patients. The increased space will allow the pediatric ophthalmology team to continue to grow and serve even more children and adolescents throughout Southwest Florida.

The new space will have 14 exam rooms, specialized pediatric equipment and colorful designs modeled after Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. It will be dedicated to treatment and exams for visual disorders in children. Some of the conditions we treat include eye muscle disorders, amblyopia (“lazy eye”), retinopathy of prematurity (often called ROP), ptosis (drooping eyelid), nasolacrimal duct (tear duct) obstructions and strabismus (abnormal alignment of the eyes).

Dr. Jessica Kovarik, pediatric ophthalmologist, and her team will move into the new space and begin seeing patients on the first day it opens.

“My patients are truly the “why” behind why I do what I do,” said Dr. Kovarik. “To have an office dedicated to treating eye conditions in children is amazing. All the additional rooms will allow my colleagues and me to see and treat even more patients in Southwest Florida.”

Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida is extremely grateful for the partnership and support from SWFL Children’s Charities and all participants in the SWFL Wine and Food Fest, which funded the new pediatric eye institute.

“To everyone who made this possible, thank you for helping my son, Cade, and other children like him across Southwest Florida,” said Megan Lawhon.

The new eye institute will be located at 11390 Summerlin Square Drive – near the intersection of San Carlos Blvd. and Summerlin Road.

For more information and how you can make an appointment, visit

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