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Ophthalmology Chair, Dr. Robert Fechtner

Message from the Chair

Welcome. Our website may be your first introduction to our department. Please look around. We are part of the State University of New York and are the leading academic medical center in Upstate New York. Our department is committed to excellence in patient care, scientific discovery, and education.

The Center for Vision Care is the hub of our clinical enterprise. We like to think of our clinical department as a small family. We have a core of eight full-time faculty and a large complement of part-time community and voluntary faculty. In fact, nearly all the community ophthalmologists in Central New York are voluntary faculty at the Center for Vision Care. Many of our subspecialty clinics are staffed by voluntary faculty, and the residents operate with these highly skilled surgeons in university operating rooms and in community surgery centers. This gives our patients access to the very best subspecialty care and allows our residents to work with, and learn from, outstanding clinicians. We are also affiliated with the Syracuse Veterans Administration Health Center, which has a busy clinical and surgical service. As a result, we see an extraordinary variety of interesting and challenging ophthalmological problems. I believe this provides our residents with a much broader experience than they might otherwise receive if they only worked with a limited number of clinicians in a single setting.

Many of our residents have recently gone on to top-notch fellowships such as Wills Eye Hospital, Price Vision Group, University of Southern California, and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in retina, cornea, oculo-plastic, and glaucoma. Others have felt well-prepared to join comprehensive practices. It is not uncommon for our residents to remain in Central New York or return to the area after completing their training. View our ophthalmology residency content to learn more about being an ophthalmology resident at SUNY Upstate.

Our department has a long history of community involvement, and Syracuse has welcomed refugees from many regions, now including Afghanistan and Ukraine. In addition to the tertiary level sub-specialty care, we are the eye care resource for the diverse immigrant and financially disadvantaged communities. Our close relationships with community subspecialists allow us to contribute to a high level of eye care for the over one million New Yorkers in Central New York, the Southern Tier, and the North Country.

The Center for Vision Research seeks a fundamental understanding of vision, from molecules to cells and tissues to visual perception, and seeks to apply this knowledge to finding cures for blindness. The research faculty members include some of the most respected names in ophthalmology who bring a wealth of experience to their work and several young scientists who are starting their research careers and experiencing great success. Our current grant funding places the Department of Ophthalmology in the top 40 NEI-funded research centers in the nation. The Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences is honored to have received an Unrestricted Grant from Research to Prevent Blindness, a distinction that is shared with only 37 other university centers in the country and only three others in New York State.

Diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice are at the core of our mission as evidenced by our faculty, leadership, staff, and the patients we serve. We are proud to call ourselves one of the most diverse academic departments on campus, are seeking new talent, and are committed to training the brilliant, diverse faculty of tomorrow.


We hope that you have the opportunity to get to know us better in the near future.


Robert D. Fechtner, MD, FACS, FARVO

Professor and Chair