Retina Fellowship Program

The UTMB Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences offers a two-year fellowship training program in medical retina, vitreoretinal surgery and uveitis.

Touka Banaee, MD
Program Director for the Ophthalmology - Vitreoretinal Fellowship Program
Assistant Professor
Diseases and Surgery of the Retina and Vitreous
Renuka Mopuru, MD
Assistant Professor
Medical Retina, Uveitis and Comprehensive Ophthalmology
Petros Carvounis, MD, FRCSC
Clinical Associate Professor
Diseases and Surgery of the Retina and Vitreous


Jaafar El Annan, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Diseases and Surgery of the Retina and Vitreous



Retina Fellowship Program

  • Philosophy and Objectives

    Our goal is to provide a holistic and supportive educational experience for the successful applicant which includes:

    • Excellent medical and surgical retina exposure
    • Teaching and educational development with an expectation for completion of research projects
    • And training in achieving excellent patient satisfaction
  • First-Year Fellowship

    During the first year, the emphasis will be on patient evaluation and management. The fellow has an opportunity to learn medical and surgical care of retinal disease in a wide range of clinical settings in which the retina service functions:

    • University Eye Center, Galveston
    • MD Anderson Cancer Center Eye Clinic
    • Texas Department of Criminal Justice Hospital and Eye Clinic
    • UTMB Emergency Room
    • Satellite clinics in Friendswood, League City, and Texas City, Texas

    The surgical faculty operates at state-of-the-art facilities in Jeannie Sealy Hospital, Victory Lakes Ambulatory Surgical Center and MD Anderson Hospital OR. We have access to the latest version platforms from Alcon and Bausch and Lomb and wide field operating scopes. The fellow is expected to become familiar with laser treatment and cryopexy. This includes direct and indirect laser photocoagulation for macular edema, proliferative diabetic retinopathy, and peripheral retinal lesions. The fellow also will receive ample experience with intravitreal injections and cryopexy of peripheral retinal pathology.

    As part of his/her training, the first-year fellow will be expected to practice on his/her posterior segment surgical skills in the fully equipped wet lab. In addition, he/she will spend an equal amount of time in the surgical simulation lab where an Eyesi retinal surgical simulator is available for use.

    As part of his/her duty, the first-year fellow also is expected to spend time in clinical and/or laboratory research. Extensive mentoring is available for both clinical and bench-work studies. The department is a leader in retinal imaging including fundus autofluorescence, spectral domain OCT at all sites, and multimodal adaptive optics imaging of the human eye.

    Retina fellow will be in charge of retina calls under the supervision of retina attending, and there is ample opportunity for him/her to visit, learn and operate on patients in the ER of the UTMB Jenny Sealy hospital.

    The fellow will start with assisting in retina surgeries from the first year and will start doing parts of the surgery from the second month. (S)He will gain expertise in performing primary scleral buckles, pars plana vitrectomy, vitreous base trimming, endolaser, fluid/air exchange, injection of oil and gas in the eye and many other procedures during the first year.

    The addition of vascular biologist Wenbo Zhang, PhD, to the department's research faculty, will create new opportunities to make discoveries in mechanisms of AMD and diabetic retinopathy.

    Finally, the retina fellow also will take part in teaching. This teaching translates into the daily clinical mentoring of residents as well as presenting "Imaging conferences." These conferences are held every other week and transpire as an interactive learning tool for residents to ascertain the basics of retinal imaging and subtleties of retinal pathology. During the course of these conferences, the fellow will emphasize the latest treatment plans for the various posterior segment diagnoses and review the most current literature as it relates to the discussed topics.

  • Second-Year Fellowship

    Upon completion of the first-year training, the second-year fellow will be expected to assume the care of more complex surgical and medical retinal pathology. Portions of the year are again spent with Drs. El-Annan,  Banaee, Mopuru, and Carvounis. In addition, the fellow will act as primary surgeon on patients coming out of the private clinics, including those from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice under the supervision of a retina attending. The goal is to keep the senior fellow as primary surgeon to the limit of his/her ability. There is ample opportunity for the senior fellow to perform laser photocoagulation, scleral buckling surgery, vitrectomy and lensectomy.

    Fellow will have rotations in the MD Anderson cancer center with Dr. Gombos, and other faculties, and will learn about management of posterior segment ocular cancers and retinal complications in cancer patients.

  • Unique Fellowship Features
    • Opportunity to understand vitreoretinal complications of cancer and cancer treatment at MDACC
    • Train in a diversity of settings, including private, institutional and academic with nationally trained faculty, both in medical and surgical retina
    • Success in training for private practice and academic careers
    • Fellows are appointed as junior faculty in the department
  • Requirements
    Applicants must obtain a full and unrestricted Texas medical license at the beginning of the fellowship.
  • Fellowship Applications

    Applications must be submitted in July and August of the preceding year. We participate in the Central Application Service (CAS) of the Ophthalmology Fellowship Matching Program (OMFP). We suggest that you contact the OMFP regarding application forms and procedures. Write or call:

    SF Match
    655 Beach Street
    San Francisco, CA 94109

    San Francisco Matching Program

    Applicants are selected on the basis of their preparedness, ability, aptitude, academic credentials, communication skills, and personal qualities. There is no discrimination with regard to sex, race, age, religion, color, national origin, disability, or veteran status.

  • Living on Galveston Island
  • Current Retina Fellow
    Ahmad Rehmani, DO 
  • Testimonials

    Ahmad Rehmani, DO – Retina Fellow, UTMB Ophthalmology Class of 2022

    My fellowship experience at UTMB is truly compared to none. I am grateful to be part of a program with diverse pathology from the prison population, to uninsured to private practice type settings. The many attendings I had the opportunity to work with encouraged my clinical and surgical curiosity and ensured I was well versed in all aspects of vitreoretinal diseases including pediatrics, uveitis, oncology and bread-and-butter retina. This was coupled this with the ability to work with world renown faculty at MD Anderson. The fellowship truly combined the best aspects of academic and private practice settings and left me confident to practice as a competent retina specialist in the real world.

Questions and further information should be directed to the Residency Program Manager/Vitreoretinal Fellowship Coordinator

Briana Villarreal
The University of Texas Medical Branch
Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
301 University Blvd.
Galveston, TX 77555-1106

Office Phone: (409) 747-5801
Fax: (409) 747-5435