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.

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, and League City Texas

    The surgical faculty operate 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, Bausch and Lomb, and wide field operating scopes. The fellow will begin with assisting in retina surgeries in the first year and will begin 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 fellow will 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.

    Clinical and laboratory research is another field that the fellow will be involved in. Extensive mentoring is available for both clinical and bench-work studies. The visual scientists of the department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences are internationally renowned and conduct cutting edge research.

    Retina fellow will oversee retina calls under the supervision of retina attending. There is ample opportunity for him/her to visit, learn, and operate on patients in the Emergency Room (ER) of the UTMB Jenny Sealy hospital.

    Finally, the retina fellow will also take part in teaching. This teaching translates into the daily clinical mentoring of residents as well as at presenting conferences.  He/she will also have a monthly text review with the retina resident.

    The retina service has a monthly journal club, which is presented by the retina fellow and resident. Monthly retina rounds are another learning opportunity for the fellows and residents to witness controversies and expert opinion of the faculty in the management of difficult cases.

  • 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. 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 attendings. The goal is to keep the senior fellow as primary surgeon to the limit of his/her ability. Membrane peeling, ILM peeling, surgery on complex diabetic retinopathy cases and proliferative vitreoretinopathies are part of the expertise that the second-year fellow will gain. 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 tumors and retinal complications in cancer patients.

  • Unique Fellowship Features
    • Train in a diversity of settings, including private, institutional and academic with nationally and internationally trained expert faculty, both in medical and surgical retina
    • The opportunity to handle a multitude of complex vitreoretinal diseases and surgeries, including complex retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy and uveitis cases, pediatric retina cases, and tumors.
    • Opportunity to attend MDACC, the top national cancer center, perform research, and learn from the most renowned ocular oncologists.
    • Successful 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 (OFMP). We suggest that you contact the OFMP 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
    Rodney Guiseppi, MD 
  • 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.

  • Past Retina Fellows

    Ahmad Rehmani, DO, 2020-2022
    Touka Banaee, MD, 2018-2020Clint Kellogg, DO, 2016-2018

    Renata Picciani, MD, 2014-2016
    Ahmed Elkeeb, MD, 2012-2014Alexander Arad Izad, MD 2007 – 2009

    Robert Blem, MD, 2001-2003
    Sami Uwaydat, MD, 1999 - 2001
    Patricia Rosas, MD, 1998 – 1999
    John Parchue, MD, 1997 - 1999
    Ali Khorrami, MD 1996 - 1997
    James Speights, MD, 1979-1980

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