Royo Eye Care
Dr. David Gajda grew up in Toronto, Canada, about ten minutes from one of Canada's seven wonders, Niagara Falls. Surrounded by some of nature's most incredible beauty, he fell in love with exploring the great outdoors and seeing all it had to offer. As he matured, he found himself fascinated by electrical engineering, and earned a degree in the field at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Realizing he would have to spend his life in front of a computer screen, he turned his focus to medicine and completed medical school and his internship at the same university.
When it came time to pick a specialty, he decided to pursue a career in ophthalmology, as he found it to be the most elegant of the specialties. Between the complexity of the eye and the precision needed to perform surgery, it was the level of challenge he had been searching for, and through it, found his calling. When he and his ex-wife, a urologist, met in Canada, the two realized they wouldn't be able to spend much time in the same place due to the country's medical system. They looked to the U.S. and found Cheyenne, Wyoming to be in need of both of their specialties.
They arrived in Cheyenne and eventually divorced, but Dr. Gajda remained there for 17 years. After meeting his present wife, Dana, the two decided it was time to escape the blistering cold and move west. They settled on California.
Dr. Gajda and Dana moved to Paradise in 2011, after finding a wonderful opportunity in joining the community's respected ophthalmologist, Dr. Niswonger at Eye Life Institute. As Dr. Niswonger was looking to retire, Dr. Gajda took the first year to familiarize himself with the community and Eye Life Institute's patients before purchasing the practice in 2012. In 2016, after five years of growing the practice, they built a new building to accommodate their expansion, but the adventure was short-lived as, two short years later, the Camp Fire changed everything. Though both their home and building survived the fire, 90% of the population had left the city, changing the landscape of their business for the foreseeable future. Doctors Barthelow and Rudick, owners of Ridge Eye Care in Paradise, were experiencing the same issue. Considering both the circumstances and Dr. Gajda's reputation, they proposed a partnership. He accepted, and the two companies merged to form Ridge Eye Institute at the end of 2019.
"I love it," Dr. Gajda said when asked about the partnership. "The business is much more secure; there's a larger patient base and many more providers. I now work in Paradise, Anderson, and Chico as there aren't currently enough patients in Paradise to fill my time. One of the many benefits of being part of the Ridge Eye Care group is they have so many different sites. It gives me the ability to travel and really practice on a larger variety of cases. Before the fire, Paradise was pretty uniform-you mostly had cataract, glaucoma, and macular degeneration cases. Now, there's a much larger breadth of what I get to see and treat. To add to it, there are other doctors around, which gives me the opportunity to see things from another person's point of view and get their opinion on cases. Not everyone sees things in the same way. They each have a slightly different perspective, and we each have our own aptitudes. It really allows us to give the best level of care to each of our patients. At the end of the day, the work is very satisfying. When we do something, it immediately makes things better for someone. Ophthalmology doesn't have a lot of bad days." In regards to the move to Northern California, Dr. Gajda said, "It is such a beautiful place! There aren't many places where there's so much available in such a small space. You can go skiing in the morning and surfing in the afternoon. Big cities are nearby when you want them along with wineries, lots of hiking, and the ocean's never far away. If you want some change in season, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better climate. It's not like Wyoming, where you go outside and freeze to death. We live up in Paradise and have an amazing view. We can see Chico, the coastal range, and the Sutter Buttes from our house. It would be hard to beat."