Dr. Labor Performs Cataract Surgery on Aviation Legend Wally Funk

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Phillips Kirk Labor, MD, Eye Consultants of Texas chief surgeon, recently performed cataract surgery on Mary “Wally” Funk, an astronaut and a true aviation legend by any standard. 

Among her many groundbreaking accomplishments, on July 20, 2021, Wally rocketed aboard Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin New Shepard spacecraft. At age 82, she became the “oldest person ever to fly into space”, previously held by famed astronaut John Glenn. Wally’s record stood until actor William Shatner made the voyage at age 90.

Wally’s Cataract Surgery Experience

Wally was referred to Dr. Labor by her optometrist, Dr. Richard Driscoll at TotalEyeCare in Colleyville, TX. She says she couldn’t be happier with the experience.

“Dr. Driscoll has taken great care of my eyes, so when he recommended Dr. Labor to do my surgery I was all in,” she said. “After my initial visit with Dr. Labor, I immediately understood why Dr. Driscoll was so high on him. I knew Dr. Labor was the best one for the job.”

Her results? “My vision is better than ever! I was given a mild sedative, so I can’t remember everything that happened except that I was completely comfortable the whole time.”

Highlighting A Legendary Career

Wally Funk’s long and illustrious career is one any aviator, male or female, would envy.

She began flying professionally in 1957, and over the next several decades continued to be a true trailblazer for female pilots in a truly male-dominated profession. 

She was selected to join the Mercury 13. This unprecedented program tested 13 women for spaceflight putting them through the same rigorous physical exams as the men. Wally was then chosen as one of three Mercury 13 members to take additional physiological tests—the same tests given to the Mercury 7, NASA’s first astronauts who were all men. 

Wally was the first woman to successfully complete the FAA General Aviation Operations Inspector Academy course. In addition, she was the National Transportation Safety Board’s first female Air Safety Investigator. She has logged a massive 19,600 hours of flight time, serving as a flight instructor helping some 3,000 students gain their private pilot’s license or advanced rating.

“Having anyone trust me with their eyesight is always an honor. Being entrusted to care for someone of Wally’s status is most certainly a special privilege,” Dr. Labor said. “Just getting to meet her and call her my patient is a career highlight, to say the least.”

To learn more about Wally, visit her website. Her highly touted memoir, Higher, Faster, Longer is available on Amazon.