It is true: Philadelphia truly is the city of brotherly love.

This month I rotated in ophthalmology at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. PCOM has a partnership with the Wills Eye Institute. It was incredible to attend lectures at the world’s first eye hospital. 

In addition to spending time in a comprehensive ophthalmology clinic, during my rotation with PCOM I also had the opportunity to rotate in oculoplastic surgery (plastic surgery on the eye) and pediatric ophthalmology, as well as attend in-hospital eye emergency consult calls.

My time in the comprehensive ophthalmology clinic was completed at Dr. Kenneth Heist’s office. Dr. Heist has a loyal and longstanding relationship with his patients in the South Philly area. Cataract surgeries are done at the Wills Eye Surgery Center using state of the art phacoemulsification technology (sound waves that break up the cloudy cataract lens in the eye). During my time rotating at the surgery center, I was able to observe Chief Resident, Doctor Charisse Chin, perform this incredible surgery.

My time in the clinic was exceptional as Dr. Heist allowed me the opportunity to “work up” patients on my own. This allowed me to advance my skills by checking vision, pressures, refraction (checking for a glasses prescription) and using the slit lamp, or microscope, to examine the eye.

Sometimes a droopy eyelid can block vision. This is a job that can be fixed by an oculoplastic surgeon. The surgery involves removal of the excess eyelid tissue in order to restore vision.

This is just an example of one type of oculoplastic surgery that I observed in Dr. Jacqueline Carrasco’s operative room. Imagine sewing the inside of someone’s eyelid. The dexterity of the Wills Eye oculoplastic fellows, such as Dr. Matthew Zhang, is unmatched.

Pediatric ophthalmology is an area that I have a particular interest in, so it was fascinating to rotate with pediatric ophthalmologists Dr. Donelson Manley and Dr. Cynthia Alley and to learn more about this field. Sometimes one of the muscles that moves the eye can become too strong. If this muscle is the one that moves the eye outward, then the eye will be stuck outward. This is called strabismus and can cause double vision. When this happens to the point where surgery is indicated, a pediatric ophthalmologist can weaken the strong muscle by cutting some of it away.

Who do you call when an eye emergency happens in the hospital? The PCOM residents. Observing the confidence that these doctors had when attending to patients in the hospital with eye emergencies was inspiring. An eye exam is limited in the hospital, as the slit lamp used in eye exams is not portable.

Using a headlamp microscope device called an indirect ophthalmoscope, they were able to complete a bedside ophthalmology exam. I was amazed at how composed resident doctors Bradley O’Neill, Remington Horesh, and Usthma Chatha were, and how well these exams were executed, as well as how swiftly a diagnosis was made and a clear treatment plan decided upon.

After completing a four-year residency in ophthalmology, residents from PCOM will go into general ophthalmology practice, or will continue their education with a one to two-year fellowship training in a variety of subspecialty fields within ophthalmology, in fields such as retinal, oculoplastics, and cornea laser surgery.

Truly embodying the tenets of osteopathic medicine, PCOM faculty and residents go the extra mile for each other and for their patients. This tight knit team of individuals has put in countless hours of training to get where they are, and they love what they do! Thank you Philadelphia for welcoming my family and I to your beautiful city, and thank PCOM for the opportunity to learn from you and to rotate and be a member of your team.

Jonathan Shader a third-year medical student at COMP-Northwest. Shader plans on becoming a pediatric ophthalmologist. Shader grew up in the Lebanon area.

Jonathan Shader

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