Department of Ophthalmology

Joan O'Brien sitting at deskDear Friends,

Since its founding in 1874, the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania has been dedicated to providing exceptional patient care, groundbreaking research, and distinguished teaching. This spring, we celebrated the 145th Anniversary of the Department of Ophthalmology. Below, we highlight several recent accomplishments of the faculty and reflect on the Department’s decades of notable achievements. 

I hope you enjoy reading through the timeline of events that led our Department to the present day. I also hope you are encouraged to see how our current faculty, staff, and alumni are continuing this tradition of excellence today. For example, below, you can read about research from Artur Cideciyan, PhD, and Samuel Jacobson, MD, PhD, that led to visual improvement in patients with a rare form of congenital blindness (published in Nature Medicine). You can also learn how a novel therapy for neurotrophic keratitis was used to treat a patient for the very first time in the United States here at Scheie. We also recognize the achievements of several faculty members and alumni, including Jean Bennett, MD, PhD, (co-recipient of the $1M Sanford Lorraine Cross Award) and Jennifer Thorne, MD, PhD (honored Alumni Lecturer). Finally, we highlight how more and more Penn medical students are electing to take a gap year to pursue research projects in ophthalmology to prepare for ophthalmology residencies. 

We also delve deeper into our continued ties with the community in this issue. Below, you will read about the devotion of Tomas Aleman, MD, and César Briceño, MD, to Puentes de Salud, a non-profit healthcare clinic that treats the underserved Latino population of Philadelphia. We also feature Councilman Allan Domb, a member of the Philadelphia City Council, who serves as a strong advocate for vision research. Finally, you can read about Penn Museum’s “touch tours” for visually impaired individuals and the inspiring story of 102-year-old Bernice Paul, who continues to paint despite suffering from macular degeneration.

I would like to express my utmost gratitude and appreciation for the colleagues, trainees, patients, and friends who have provided this Department with 145 years of excellence. We are committed to sustaining this momentum into the future. Planning is currently underway to celebrate our 150th Anniversary. 

Wishing you all a wonderful summer.

Joan O’Brien, MD

  • Drs. High and Bennett

    Co-Winners of Sanford Lorraine Cross Award

    Scheie Vision Summer 2019: Drs. Bennett and High receive the inaugural $1M Sanford Lorraine Cross Award.

  • Penn Museum Touch Tour

    Exploring the Penn Museum Through Touch

    Scheie Vision Summer 2019: The Penn Museum offers touch tours to visitors with low vision, inviting these individuals to explore the exhibits through touch.

  • Puentes de Salud

    Puentes de Salud: Building Bridges of Health

    Scheie Vision Summer 2019: Scheie physicians and students volunteer at Puentes de Salud, a healthcare clinic that treats the Latino population of Philadelphia.

  • Councilman Allan Domb

    The Vision of Councilman Allan Domb

    Scheie Vision Summer 2019: Member of the Philadelphia City Council, Allan Domb serves as a strong advocate for vision research.

  • Scheie Eye Institute construction

    145 Years of Department Milestones

    Scheie Vision Summer 2019: The Department celebrated its 145th Anniversary, a milestone that is the culmination of many advancements and successes, as illustrated in this timeline.

  • Teja Alapati

    Faces of Scheie: Medical Students Take a Gap Year

    Scheie Vision Summer 2019: These medical students elected to take a gap year to pursue research projects related to ophthalmology.

  • Dr. Massaro

    Breakthrough Therapy for Rare Corneal Disease

    Scheie Vision Summer 2019: Dr. Massaro is the first physician in the U.S. to treat patients with a breakthrough therapy for neurotrophic keratitis.

  • Bernice Paul with painting

    Painting Through Vision Loss

    Scheie Vision Summer 2019: 102-year-old Bernice Paul continues to paint despite vision loss from macular degeneration.

  • Drs. Jacobson and Cideciyan

    Improving Vision in Retinal Degeneration

    Scheie Vision Summer 2019: Drs. Cideciyan and Jacobson show visual improvements in patients with a rare form of congenital retinal blindness.

  • Scheie physicians

    Department Celebrates 145 Years

    Scheie Vision Summer 2019: In April 2019, the Department of Ophthalmology celebrated its 145th Anniversary at the Scheie Alumni Meeting.

  • Ryan Cochran

    Patient Testimonials: Corneal Transplants

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2018: Three-year-old Ryan Cochran and 71-year-old Lloyd Patton receive hope after corneal transplants.

  • Dr. Burge

    Vision Research in the Natural World

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2018: Dr. Johannes Burge’s research aims to understand how our visual system completes tasks in the "real" world.

  • Gene therapy researchers

    Correcting Macular Degeneration

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2018: Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania achieve gene therapy success for treating macular degeneration in dogs.

  • Close up of woman's eyes

    Elective Services at Scheie: A Q&A with Dr. Mehta

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2018: Scheie’s Oculoplastic and Reconstructive Surgery Service offers surgical and nonsurgical services to rejuvenate the mid-face and face.

  • Herbert and Karen Lotman

    A New Home for the Macula Vision Research Foundation

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2018: The Macula Vision Research Foundation finds a new home at the Scheie Eye Institute.

  • Sheri Grand Drossner and Dr. Ranjoo Prasad

    Scheie's Vision Loss Support Group

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2018: The Penn Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation's Vision Loss Support Group expands in size and impact.

  • Leaders of an ROP workshop

    Global Connections and Global Impact

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2018: Dr. Graham Quinn and colleagues create a retinopathy of prematurity workshop program to detect and treat this condition in other countries.

  • Omega-3 supplements

    Fish Oil and Dry Eye

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2018: A large clinical trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, evaluates fish oil as a treatment for dry eye disease.

  • Dr. Shindler

    Pre-clinical Studies for Optic Nerve

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2018: Dr. Kenneth Shindler’s research explores novel methods to prevent damage to the optic nerve.

  • Recipients of the 2018 Antonio Champalimaud Vision Award

    Champalimaud Vision Award

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2018: Three Penn ophthalmologists receive the António Champalimaud Vision Award for their work leading to the first gene therapy for an inherited disease.

  • Dr. Cesar Briceno and Madhura Tamhankar

    Scheie Launches Thyroid Eye Disease Program

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2018: The Scheie Eye Institute creates a program to treat patients with thyroid eye disease.

  • Scheie Building

    New Arrivals 2018

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2018: The Department of Ophthalmology welcomes its newest faculty members.

  • Plaque Presentation for Gene Therapy

    The Team Making Blind Kids See

    Scheie Vision Summer 2018: Scheie physicians receive FDA approval for Luxturna, the first gene therapy for an inherited disease in the United States.

  • Christian Guardino

    Patient Testimonial: Gene Therapy

    Scheie Vision Summer 2018: Four years after participating in the Phase III clinical trial for gene therapy, Christian Guardino performs on America's Got Talent.

  • Dr. Jessica Morgan

    Next Step in Precision Medicine

    Scheie Vision Summer 2018: Dr. Jessica Morgan's research contributes to future treatments for a range of hereditary retinal diseases.

  • Medication

    Assessing the Risk of Intraocular Bleeding

    Scheie Vision Summer 2018: A new analysis led by Dr. Brian VanderBeek explores the ocular safety profile of novel antithrombotics.

  • Dry Eye Image

    Patient Testimonial: Treating Dry Eye at Scheie

    Scheie Vision Summer 2018: Deborah Pley shares her experience with Penn's Dry Eye and Ocular Surface Center.

  • World Map

    Bringing Eye Care Across the World

    Scheie Vision Summer 2018: Dr. Sonul Mehta travels around the world to provide medical care to under-served populations.

  • Lang Lourng Ung

    Faces of Scheie: Ophthalmic Technicians

    Scheie Vision Summer 2018: In ophthalmology clinics, technicians like Lang, play a crucial role in optimizing the quality and efficiency of care.

  • Alumni Event

    144 Years of the Ophthalmology Department

    Scheie Vision Summer 2018: The Department of Ophthalmology celebrates its 144th Anniversary at the Scheie Alumni Meeting this past April.

  • Gene_Therapy_Graphic

    Milestone for Gene Therapy

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2017: Drs. Jean Bennett and Al Maguire receive FDA approval for first gene therapy targeting inherited retinal disease.

  • Photo of mosquito on skin

    Retinal Damage from Zika

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2017: Dr. Tomas Aleman studies Zika's effect on retinal development in infants.

  • Stacy_Yougn_With_Al_Maguire

    Patient Testimonial: Finding Her Way Out of the Darkness

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2017: Stacy Young sees hope 17 years after fireworks injury.

  • Drs. Brainard and Aguirre

    Understanding Photophobia

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2017: Vision scientists investigate function of a third class of light-sensing cells.

  • JMO_Student_Illustration

    Art of Diagnosis

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2017: Penn Medicine takes a creative approach to teaching medical observation.

  • Drs. Vatinee Bunya and Mina Massaro

    The DREAM Study

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2017: Dr. Vatinee Bunya and colleagues investigate whether Omega-3 fatty acids alleviate symptoms of dry eye disease.

  • CATT_Teaser

    10 Years After the Beginning of CATT

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2017: Dr. Maureen Maguire describes the history and promise of anti-VEGF drugs for treating AMD.

  • Scheie Residents Group Photo

    Scheie Residency Expands

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2017: The Ophthalmology Residency has expanded surgical volume in the past few years.

  • Scheie_Building_New_Arrivals

    New Arrivals 2017

    Scheie Vision Annual Report 2017: The Department of Ophthalmology welcomes its newest members.

  • Binenbaum_Examining_Camera

    Caring for Eyes of All Sizes

    Scheie Vision Summer 2017: Dr. Gil Binenbaum creates algorithm to save tens of thousands of healthy infants from unnecessary retinal exams.

  • Kim_StillShot

    Retina Research: A Spirit of Collaboration

    Scheie Vision Summer 2017: Dr. Benjamin Kim engages in multiple innovative research programs.

  • Prasad_Support_Group

    Vision Loss Support Group

    Scheie Vision Summer 2017: Dr. Ranjoo Prasad leads support group for patients with vision loss.

  • Portnoy_WithPatient_Language_Cropped

    Medical Interpretation Services

    Scheie Vision Summer 2017: Penn expands translation services for non-English speaking patients.

  • Briceno_Colombia

    Eye Care in Colombia

    Scheie Vision Summer 2017: Dr. César Briceño provides exams and glasses in remote Amazonian region.

  • Retina_Iron

    Does Excess Iron Contribute to AMD?

    Scheie Vision Summer 2016: Dr. Josh Dunaief and colleagues investigate new therapies for slowing AMD progression.

  • Grunwald_Action

    Tracking Kidney Disease in the Retina

    Scheie Vision Summer 2016: Dr. Juan Grunwald and colleagues identify link between retinopathy and chronic kidney disease.

  • faculty_spotlight

    Faculty Spotlights

    Penn ophthalmologists are pioneers in research and in patient care. Learn about the diverse and winding paths that took them to where they are today.

  • Surgery

    Alumni Spotlights

    Graduates of the Penn Ophthalmology residency and fellowship programs become leaders in research, patient care, and teaching. Check out the latest news with these alumni.

Share This Page: