Ophthalmology residents Sidharth Puri, M.D., standing, and Mohammad Ali Sadiq M.D., training in cataract eye surgery using artificial eyes in a ‘wet lab’ at the University of Louisville
Ophthalmology residents Sidharth Puri, M.D., standing, and Mohammad Ali Sadiq M.D., training in cataract eye surgery using artificial eyes in a ‘wet lab’ at the University of Louisville

Ophthalmology residents are learning to perform advanced eye surgeries earlier in their training at the University of Louisville thanks to a unique partnership with Suburban Excimer Laser Center and training on laser equipment from J&J Vision, a division of Johnson & Johnson.

“This is a novel public-private venture that provides a unique opportunity to combine the resources of a Fortune 500 company, the UofL ophthalmology program and a private laser center staffed with highly experienced clinicians,” said Richard Eiferman, MD, clinical professor of ophthalmology with the University of Louisville School of Medicine, who oversees the training.  

The UofL Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences is one of only three programs in the United States in which the residents are trained for LASIK and PRK procedures during residency. The physicians in the laser center train the residents in performing the procedures, while representatives of Johnson & Johnson instruct them in the use of J&J Vision Surgical equipment for these procedures.

The program’s success promptly led to its expansion to include ophthalmology residents from the University of Kentucky Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences as well. Eight residents from UofL and six residents from UK are participating in the elective program.

The final stage of the training takes place at Suburban Excimer Laser Center, in which the residents perform surgeries under the direction of Eiferman, a clinical professor in the UofL School of Medicine, Frank Burns, MD, and Mark Cassol, MD, a lecturer in the UofL School of Medicine.

Earlier this year, two senior residents from UofL were the first medical residents in the United States to complete all of the required training and become FDA certified to perform the laser surgery prior to completing their three-year residency program. The certification typically is achieved by physicians engaged in specialized cornea fellowships following ophthalmology residency.

Only two other eye programs in the United States, Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia and the University of Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, have similar programs.

Sidharth Puri, MD, chief ophthalmology resident at UofL, said access to this training gives UofL residency graduates a significant advantage.

“This is a big strength for our program. It gives residents top notch exposure to the newest surgical techniques available,” Puri said.

To assist these residents in their training, the program is offering more affordable eye surgery to UofL faculty, staff, students and alumni, as well as staff of UofL Physicians and UofL Hospital and James Graham Brown Cancer Center. Resident procedures, staffed by Richard Eiferman, MD, Frank Burns, MD, and Mark Cassol, MD, range from $495 to $795 per eye for custom LASIK. For an appointment, call 502-588-0550.

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Betty Coffman
Betty Coffman is a Health Communications Specialist, working on the Health Sciences Campus with departments in the School of Medicine. A UofL alumna and Louisville native, she served as a writer and editor for local and national publications and as an account services coordinator and copywriter for marketing and design firms prior to joining UofL’s Office of Marketing and Communications.