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Speaker Spotlight: Natalie Afshari, MD

Posted By Michael P. Kelly, Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 22, 2013

Photo by Michael P KellyFrom Blind to 20/20…Keratoprosthesis to the Rescue

When the cornea becomes severely diseased and vision is compromised, cornea transplantation may be necessary. Many people with corneal disease can benefit from corneal transplantation, however, in many cases, this treatment rapidly fails. An alternate treatment for patients with severe corneal opacity is a Keratoprosthesis, which is a synthetic plastic-based artificial cornea. A Keratoprothesis can be used after standard corneal transplant has failed or when such a transplant would be unlikely to succeed.

Dr. Natalie Afshari is one of the worlds’ foremost experts on this surgery and restored vision in many of our patients here at Duke University. Now, as the Chief of the Cornea Division at University of California at San Diego, she is doing the same on the West Coast; we miss her dearly.

Dr. Afshari completed her medical school at Standford, and her residency and fellowship at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. An accomplished clinician, surgeon and research scientist, she has been consulted by the FDA on matters of safety and efficacy of various ophthalmological treatments over the years. She has received NIH grants to support her research in Fuchs dystrophy, a genetic disorder leading to corneal transplantation. She is the co-editor of a two-volume cornea book, "Principles and Practice of Cornea.”  

For her commitment to teaching and training ophthalmologists, she has received the Teacher of the Year award at Duke University Eye Center. She also has been invited to lecture nationally and internationally and is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Dr. Afshari’s peers elected her to the cornea program committee and Awards committee of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). Dr. Afshari will be providing us with an exciting lecture on Keratoprosthesis: how it was developed, how it works, successes, challenges, and complications. This is a fascinating surgery that restores vision and, really, a new lease on life, for many individuals with severe corneal problems.

On a personal note, Natalie Afshari is one of the most kind, gentle, giving human beings I have ever had the pleasure and honor of working with. She is a wonderful mother, teacher, clinician, surgeon, and friend. I know the room will be packed in anticipation of this super lecture: "Keratoprosthesis". I advise you to get there early to ensure getting a seat -it will be standing room only for sure.

Michael P. Kelly, FOPS

Vice Chair, OPS Board of Education


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