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Residents Dr. Neerukonda and Dr. Valdes at their wet lab

The Education Program

The Department's residency 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.

Integrated Internship

Starting July 2021, we are excited to offer an integrated internship fully integrated into the Ophthalmology residency and under the supervision of the Ophthalmology Residency Program Director.  This internship year will include 6 months of internal medicine, 3 months of ophthalmology and 3 months of electives.  Experience will be both at the Syracuse VA and SUNY Upstate University Hospital so that incoming residents will become familiar with both electronic health record systems.

The goal of the three ophthalmology months is to create a graduated orientation experience that won’t feel like learning to swim in the deep end of the pool. Each month will have increased expectation with the resident doing inpatient consults during the second month and taking buddy-call during the third month.

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-ophthalmology clinics.

Although the program is rich in hands-on experience, faculty are available at all times ensuring residents have support to make patient management decisions within their level of training and medical knowledge. A series of lectures provides an introductory course for new residents, who quickly learn methods of ocular examination (including refraction, slit lamp microscopy, and indirect ophthalmoscopy).

Second Year

Second year is divided into three four-month rotations.

550 Harrison Rotation:

Four months are spent at the Center for Vision Care at 550 Harrison.  Here the second-year resident participates in general and specialty resident clinics.  They perform all of the pediatric and strabismus surgery. as well as accompany the pediatric specialist on ROP rounds in the NICU one day a week.

VA Rotation:

Four months are spent at the Syracuse VA Hospital. This rotation gives exposure to all the comprehensive and subspecialty clinics.  The VA procedure clinic, where the resident is given graduated autonomy, is often rated as the best part of this rotation.  Residents often do their first cataract surgery as a primary surgeon on this rotation. 

Inpatient Rotation:

Four months are spent as the inpatient resident based at SUNY Upstate University Hospital (which is connected to Crouse Hospital). There this resident sees ER and inpatients consultations during the day. Both the patients and the resident benefit from the continuity provided. An attending rounds each weekday and as needed on weekends/holidays. Residents cite this rotation as being extremely beneficial in learning how to approach complex diagnostic and inter-disciplinary challenges.

Third Year

Third year residents assume the role of chief resident of their respective locations. There are three four-month rotations with the primary responsibilities being surgical and contributing to outpatient clinics, allowing each to experience the different hospital environments.

550 Harrison Rotation:

The 550 chief resident is centered at the Center for Vision Care at 550 Harrison. This chief serves as the administrative chief resident and creates the weekly schedules.  They participate in weekly general and subspecialty clinics.  They operate approximately 2 days a week with an emphasis on cataract and glaucoma surgery.

VA Rotation:

The VA chief resident oversees the comprehensive and subspecialty clinics at the VA. He or she performs cataract surgery under the supervision of the Chief of Ophthalmology and oculoplastics surgery with the oculoplastics specialists at the Syracuse Veterans Hospital. Finally, the VA chief is responsible for VA consultations and triages.

Float Rotation:

Centered at 550 Harrison, the float chief is focused on Cornea and Vitreoretinal surgery. They work alongside the most awesome uveitis specialist in all the land to care for an impressively diverse and diagnostically challenging patient population. There are some cataracts generated as part of combined cases. This rotation has flexibility to accommodate the interests of the individual resident.  Those pursuing fellowship will often gain extra clinical and surgical exposure their chosen area.  Residents interested in comprehensive ophthalmology are given additional cataract surgical opportunity and are encouraged to spend time with the high-volume cataract faculty.

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.

Outpatient surgery numbers are pretty evenly split between the Syracuse VA and 550 Harrison Operating room.  These facilities contain multiple operating microscopes, current-generation phacoemulsification and vitrectomy equipment as well as Argon, YAG, and Excimer lasers.  Emergent after-hours cases tend to be done at Crouse Hospital.

Residents are also welcome to observe community surgeons perform cornea/retina/cataract surgery at the Specialty Surgery Center and plastics surgeries at Eye Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery Center, both located in Liverpool, NY.

Resident Research

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. At a minimum, each resident is required to do a yearly poster at the CNY Vision Forum in the Spring.

The Center for Vision Research is composed of Department research scientists working 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 organizations.