An eye on the future

As the newest ophthalmic eye surgeon at UHN’s Glaucoma Clinic, Dr. Irfan Kherani is intent on optimizing patient care and pushing the boundaries of research innovation. (Photo: courtesy of Dr. Irfan Kherani)

As a recent member of the Glaucoma Clinic at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute, University Health Network (UHN), ophthalmic surgeon Dr. Irfan Kherani specializes in the full gamut of glaucoma and anterior segment medical, laser and incisional surgery. Excited about driving research advances forward, Dr. Kherani’s goals include measuring the effect of laser surgery, and comparing both traditional and micro-invasive procedures. With a passion for medical education, Dr. Kherani is also working with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada to develop the ophthalmology competencies for use in competency-based medical education – thus helping ensure that ophthalmic surgeons receive the best training possible. We spoke to Dr. Kherani about his work at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute, and his ambitions in the field of glaucoma and beyond.

What made you decide to specialize in glaucoma?

IK: Glaucoma offers a comprehensive lens through which to manage vision – uniquely balancing medicine and surgery. In clinic, glaucoma specialists manage the full continuum of vision health: they screen for disease before the visual field has been affected, prevent its progression with medical and surgical interventions, and advocate for resources in those with very advanced disease.  During my residency and fellowships, I was drawn to the elegant finesse that drives microscopic glaucoma treatment, rooted in the balance between aggressive intervention to reduce glaucoma progression and the potential for complications with any intervention.

Why are you excited to work at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute?

IK: The Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute has a long track record of not only offering the best medical and surgical treatments for eye disease across the spectrum of ophthalmology, but also excellence in research and teaching. Many of the physicians and surgeons at this eye institute are internationally known for their contributions and developments to our field, including Dr. Graham Trope who I have the honour and privilege of succeeding. In addition to training some of the best ophthalmology residents in the country, the subspecialty fellowship programs in retina, cornea and glaucoma draw candidates internationally. I am humbled by the opportunity to join this team of excellent physicians and surgeons, and can only hope to manifest that same commitment to optimizing patient care, research and innovation as well as clinical and surgical training.

What is new in clinical and surgical innovation in glaucoma to offer new hope to patients?

IK: Glaucoma is an extremely exciting field! We are seeing innovation across the board in medical, laser and surgical intervention. We have seen new medications both in the form of drops and implantable sources of medication come into play. Surgically, we have seen the creation of minimally invasive glaucoma surgery, both in the form of smaller or “angle-based” surgery and larger or “filtering” surgery. Toronto is truly an international center for the research of these new procedures – with significant contributions from two of my fellowship mentors Dr. Matt Schlenker who I work with here at UHN and Dr. Ike Ahmed , faculty at the University of Toronto.

What are your personal goals in your new position at UHN’s Glaucoma Service at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute?

IK: My ultimate goal as the newest member of UHN’s Glaucoma Service at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute is to be the best physician and surgeon I can be through optimization of patient care, contribution to research and innovation, as well as mentorship of our ophthalmology and glaucoma trainees. As a clinical service provider, I hope to offer the full gamut of medical, laser and surgical treatment options for the management of mild, moderate, advanced and very-advanced glaucoma. Given my concurrent interest in low vision rehabilitation, the service ophthalmologists provide to our patients with difficulty completing daily tasks secondary to their vision changes, I hope to research and innovate the care we provide to our patients who have such difficulty secondary to glaucoma – a field not very well understood. As a mentor, I hope to ignite the same passion for ophthalmology and glaucoma patient service in the medical students, residents and fellows with whom I work. 

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