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In Focus with Douglas Rhee, MD, Director of UH Eye Institute

UH Clinical Update - June 2017

Cataract surgery is the most common surgery performed in the U.S. This is logical, considering the explosive growth of the aging population – nearly all of whom will need the surgery in both eyes.

Douglas Rhee, MD, Chairman of Ophthalmology and Director of the Eye Institute at University Hospitals, says it also is the most common surgery of any kind done at UH. Douglas Rhee, MD

However, it is only one of dozens of types of surgery performed in ophthalmology, many of which are offered at UH, but not at other nearby health care systems.

Even in cataract surgery, Dr. Rhee says, “We have the technology and algorithms that allow us to create the most optimal post-operative refracted outcome. We have the greatest advantage in predicting the prediabetic capability for the final need of glasses, or lack thereof, after cataract surgery.”

Dr. Rhee is widely considered to be an expert in leading-edge surgical interventions. He also was one of the first physicians to describe the rare condition of bilateral acute angle closure glaucoma in patients induced by topiramate, a drug often prescribed to prevent seizures or migraines.

He came to UH in 2013, from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, where he had been since 2005. Dr. Rhee is renowned for his work in glaucoma in both children and adults. He specializes both in complex and high-risk cases, with an interest in rare clinical syndromes, as well as the more common forms of glaucoma.

“No one in Ohio and the four or five surrounding states offers the breadth, depth and variety of surgical management in ophthalmology that we do at UH,” he says. “This is the result of UH investing in innovative treatments, combined with the pioneering spirit and expertise of our clinicians.”

He adds that is why UH draws patients not only from Ohio, but from Michigan, Indiana and western Pennsylvania.

Dr. Rhee also is a leading educator of ophthalmologists, serving on various scientific and curriculum committees of both academic institutions and medical societies. He has contributed to the understanding of rare syndromes, such discovering that plateau iris syndrome is a familial condition in around half of all cases.

He says he was drawn to UH because of the number of surgical options offered here, which appeal to his “spirit of exploration.”

“We offer more here,” he says. “For example, we can perform an innovative surgery for the cornea – a new way of corneal transplantation. We are pioneering a surgical treatment for severe intractable dry eye symptoms and the associated pain, as well as developing novel treatments for facial paralysis that involves the eyes.”

“And we offer a very wide area of surgical management of pediatric eye disease.”

Dr. Rhee can cite a dozen other example of surgeries and treatments UH offers that other health systems nearby do not, including those for glaucoma surgery. He credits the team of physicians and researchers who work with him.

If you are interested in learning more, Dr. Rhee can be reached at