- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—The only corneal specialist on the Palouse has worked with countless numbers of patients during his career, but one in particular stands out to him.

Dr. Shawn Richards recalled a man who came to his office years ago while he was working as an ophthalmologist in Denver.

The man’s face had been splashed with lye, and he was almost completely blind.

Richards gave the man a corneal transplant. A week later, the man had 20/25 vision.

“That was probably the happiest man I’ve ever seen,” Richards said, adding it’s those experiences that “make it worth going to work every day.”

Richards has been helping people see in places like Colorado, Kentucky, Missouri and central Washington. Then a year ago, he decided to bring his ophthalmology skills to Moscow, the place he grew up.

At ClearView Eye Clinic, Richards’ office sits on the hill behind Wal-Mart, overlooking the University of Idaho and the rolling Palouse hills.

“The more I was away, the more I realized I wanted to come back,” he said.

His family moved to Moscow from New Mexico around the time Richards began fourth grade. His father started work in town as a gynecologist, a practice he continues today.

Richards attended Moscow High School where he said he helped bring Moscow the 1997 state basketball title.

After high school, he went to Brigham Young University and later St. Louis University School of Medicine, where he set his sights on orthopedics.

Then, one day, he was in between classes and walked by an interest group holding a meeting about ophthalmology, which deals with the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eye. The group was offering free pizza, so he decided to check it out.

There, he received an introduction to the practice where he was impressed by the unique technology and the chance to help people see. He was hooked.

“I was like, ‘Man, that is neat,’ ” he said.

His sudden career change took him to practices around the Midwest and eventually back to the Northwest in Moses Lake, Wash.

But that inkling to move his wife and three children to Moscow to again be close to his siblings, nieces and nephews — who still live in town — grew stronger.

So when an acquaintance of Richards, Dr. David Leach, called to ask Richards about joining him at ClearView Eye Clinic, he didn’t hesitate.

“He made the call and I said yes,” Richards said.

Coming back home was an easy transition, Richards said. While there has been growth in Moscow since he left, “the feeling of Moscow is the same.”

He’s already become involved in the community by becoming a Scout master for a local Boy Scout group.

And he continues to do what he loves as a doctor: interacting with people and changing the way they see the world — literally.

It’s a job that lets him “feel like I make a difference in the world,” he said.

Richards said he doesn’t have any plans to leave again, adding he hopes to live out his life in Moscow.

“This is it,” he said.

Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to [email protected]

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(c)2015 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho)

Visit the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho) at www.dnews.com

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