The Education Program

The Department's training program has long been strong in providing a broad-based, high-volume, well-supervised educational experience for promising residents. Program graduates display competency in all areas of comprehensive ophthalmology thanks to the breadth of study and experience the program offers. Academic excellence is a high priority and is reflected in the Department's consistently high performance on the Ophthalmic Knowledge Assessment Program and American Board of Ophthalmology examination. Board scores for Upstate Medical University ophthalmology residents overall are consistently above the 75th percentile, with many placing above the 90th percentile.

 Third Year Residents

Chief Residents: Siri Hiremath, MD; Alex Harris, MD; and Lauren Sielert, MD


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Second Year Residents: George Salloum, MD and Lianna Valdes, MD

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First Year Residents: Swetha Dhanireddy, MD; Vamsee Neerukonda, MD; Han Yang Yin, MD

Graduates of the program who choose subspecialization typically obtain top fellowships across the country. All training takes place on one diverse campus that incorporates University Hospital, Crouse Hospital, and the Veterans Administration Medical Center. The residency program is three years long.

Residents are admitted to the program on the advice of the Residency Selection Committee. The committee encourages competitive candidates to spend a day in the Department, tour the campus, talk with current residents, and interview with the faculty. Grades, test scores, letters of recommendation, and personal interviews all play a role in shaping the committee's decisions.

First Year

The first year is heavy in practical experience. A series of lectures provides a course for new residents, who immediately learn methods of ocular examination (including refraction, diagnosis and therapy, and minor outpatient procedures). The residents quickly become involved in all aspects of patient care, assisting attending physicians in operating rooms and, along with second-year residents, cover weekend and night call on a rotating basis. Residents will start doing oculoplastic surgery, lasers, injections, and neuro-ophth clinics.

Although the program is rich in hands-on experience, faculty are available around the clock and residents are never forced to make patient management decisions that lie beyond their level of training and medical knowledge.

Second Year

Residents spend part of their second year attending a Basic and Clinical Science Course for one month. The remainder of the second year's curriculum is divided into three parts. Half way through, the residents switch assignments to give equal time in Parts One, Two, and Three.

Part One:

At the University Eye Center, the second year resident performs all of the strabismus surgery, pediatrics, as well as enucleations. The resident will do ROP rounds, NICU, and lasers.

Part Two:

A second year resident is at the Veterans Hospital and is in charge of the glaucoma clinics, operating rooms, laser rooms, and procedures.

Part Three:

A third resident, called the float, will see inpatient consults during hours, assist in surgery, go to clinics at the Veterans Hospital and University Eye Center.

Senior (Third) Year

The seniors rotate allowing each to experience the two very different hospital environments. Three senior residents take charge of the clinics at the Veterans Hospital and University Eye Center. The assingments last 4 months.

Part One:

 The resident is under the supervision of the Chief of Ophthalmology at the Veterans Hospital. Will oversee glaucoma clinic, cataracts and plastics surgery.

Part Two:

The resident assumes similar roles and responsibilities at the University Eye Center. Oversees pediatrics, plastics, glaucoma, and general clinics. Will perform cataract surgery with the Attending of the Month.

Part Three:

A resident will take on the responsbility of being the float and will go where needed. The resident will be at clinic at the University Eye Center, Veterans Hospital, or surgery.

Resident Surgery

Residents gain experience in the most sophisticated and complex surgical procedures during their third year of training. They typically perform at least 200 major surgeries, addressing such issues as major trauma, corneal lacerations, intraocular foreign bodies, and tumors. Residents operate under the guidance of an attending ophthalmic surgeon who provides hands-on assistance.

The majority of elective admissions take place at Crouse Hospital. The hospital handles about 5,000 major ophthalmic cases annually, not including laser and minor surgeries. Seventy-five percent of these procedures are performed in one of two outstanding outpatient surgery centers located on campus. These facilities contain multiple operating microscopes, all types of phacoemulsification and vitrectomy equipment, Argon, YAG, and Excimer lasers, and endophotocoagulation devices.

Resident Research

Research is a major component of the Department's mission. At the Barbara W. Streeten, MD - Eye Pathology Laboratory, under the leadership of Ann Barker-Griffith, MD, the residents may participate in her clinical research. In addition to pathology, major inroads have been made in the study of a leading cause of glaucomapseudoexfoliation disease. Studies from this laboratory have helped to elucidate the clinical, anatomical, and biochemical features of this and other important conditions.

Another area of emphasis is inherited retinal disorders. Department research scientists work at the leading edge of molecular biological research of hereditary retinal disease and related disorders.

The faculty working in these areas are experts in the clinical aspects of inherited retinal disease, as well as in biochemistry physiology, and cell and molecular biology. Much of the research conducted on campus is supported by grants from the National Eye Institute, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and other well known funding organizations.

Residents in the Department are encouraged to join faculty in engaging in research. The residency program has a history of generating superb publications and presentations. Topics have ranged from clinical cases to electron microscopic and biochemical projects.

Syracuse University shares the same campus as the SUNY Upstate Medical University and supports active basic science research of the visual system with ongoing projects in its departments of Psychology, Physiology, and Biophysics, and in Syracuse University's Institute for Sensory Research. Several investigators in these departments hold joint appointments in teaching and research in the Department of Ophthalmology. This combined Syracuse vision science group annually presents papers and posters at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and is recognized as a major force in the field.