Scheie Vision Summer 2014
Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Dr. Robert Weisenthal first moved to the east coast after matching with Scheie Eye Institute for his residency. He had previously attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison for his undergraduate and medical education. After completing his fellowship in cornea and external disease at the University of Iowa, Dr. Weisenthal returned to Scheie for one year to serve as the Assistant Chief of Service and to help run the residency program. Today, he has a combined private and academic practice at Central New York (CNY) Eye Care and is a Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at Upstate Medical University.
Dr. Weisenthal credits much of the success of his professional career to the teaching and mentoring that took place at Scheie.
“I was very fortunate to have excellent professors, whose lessons still ring in my ear to this day,” said Dr. Weisenthal. “I also worked with great co-residents, many of whom are still my best friends like Peter Gross, Sheryl Menacker, and Tom Bersani, who recruited me to central New York.”
Several mentors in particular had a long-term impact on Dr. Weisenthal.
“Dr. Irv Raber was a great mentor and the reason I specialized in Cornea and External Disease,” Dr. Weisenthal said. “And David Kozart was the standard bearer for excellence, to this day. I still remember him asking me about the appearance of the macula after using a direct ophthalmoscope as a first year resident. I didn’t see the macula because the patient was moving so much. I vowed that this would never happen again and even now, I will still think about Dr. Kozart when I use the direct ophthalmoscope.”
“Sandy Brucker was the consummate retina specialist and I always enjoyed his clinical analysis of complicated patients,” Dr. Weisenthal added. “I still remember his line from an angiography conference, ‘Tell me the vision and then show me the appearance of the macula and I will agree. But don’t show me the macula and ask me to guess the vision because I will never be right.’”
According to Dr. Weisenthal, much has changed at Scheie since his time as a resident.
“The facilities have been upgraded, the quality of the residents is superb (not sure if I would be accepted today), and Joan O’Brien is an excellent Chairman and leader,” he said. “I think that the only thing that has not changed at Scheie is my friendship with Stephen Orlin, who is an excellent and well-respected corneal specialist.”
Today, Dr. Weisenthal specializes in cornea and external disease at CNY Eye Care, performing corneal transplants, descemet stripping endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK), descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK), deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty (DALK), cataract surgery, and LASIK. He earned the Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology for his contribution to numerous courses, covering Cornea and External Disease and Corneal Transplantation, as well as paper and poster presentations.
Dr. Weisenthal’s main areas of research include data analysis of corneal transplantation outcomes, selection of intraocular lens, power after previous refractive surgery, and LASIK surgery. He has contributed to a number of FDA studies involving the use of Aniridic lenses through Ophtec and collagen cross-linking. He has also written chapters for a number of textbooks such as Cornea by Krachmer, Holland, and Mannis and the LASIK Handbook by Rob Feder. He currently serves as the committee chairman editing the Basic Clinical and Science Curriculum (BCSC) textbook Book 8 on Cornea and External Disease, recently joined by Dr. Orlin.
Since 1992, Dr. Weisenthal has traveled with Dr. Thomas Bersani over 17 times to LaCeiba, Honduras to perform surgery at no charge for the very poor of the country. This year, they brought a team of 18 individuals (including surgeons, anesthesiologists, optometrists, and volunteers), and the group performed 159 surgeries and saw more than 500 patients. On a previous visit, world famous violinist Hillary Hahn came with the team and played while Drs. Weisenthal and Bersani performed surgery.
“I have brought all three of my sons on this trip, which has had a dramatic impact on their lives,” Dr. Weisenthal said. “My wife, Jenifer, has also traveled with us four times and plays a critical role as the surgical coordinator facilitated by her fluent Spanish. We are very grateful for this opportunity. I feel that during the mission you always get back much more than you provide. It is my favorite week of the year.”
Dr. Weisenthal is very close with his three sons. His oldest is in medical school at the University of Rochester, exploring his interest in Orthopedics. His second son, who currently works at the National Institute of Health (NIH), is applying to medical school. His third son works in Guatemala through a Princeton in Latin American fellowship for a NGO called Pueblo a Pueblo helping the Mayan Indians with education, sanitation, and health care.
Dr. Weisenthal is one of so many Alumni who lead interesting, full lives. We are proud to call him part of the Scheie family.