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Dean McGee Eye Institute continues tradition of leadership in patient care, education and vision research


DMEI provides more than 225,000 total patient visits per year from all 77 Oklahoma counties and the surrounding six-state region through its main location on the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center campus in Oklahoma City and four satellite locations.

(Image Credit: AdobeStock/Mia B/peopleimages.com)

(Image Credit: AdobeStock/Mia B/peopleimages.com)

Since opening its doors in 1975, the Dean McGee Eye Institute (DMEI) has become one of America’s largest and most respected centers for medical and surgical eye care.

DMEI provides more than 225,000 total patient visits per year from all 77 Oklahoma counties and the surrounding six-state region through its main location on the University of Oklahoma (OU) Health Sciences Center campus in Oklahoma City and four satellite locations. Its surgeons perform more than 10,000 major procedures annually.

Its 30 ophthalmologists, 6 optometrists, and other providers achieve outcomes that meet or exceed established national benchmarks.DMEI has practitioners in all subspecialties of ophthalmology, provides ophthalmology coverage at the OU Health/University of Oklahoma Medical Center/Oklahoma Children’s Hospital (the state’s only Level I trauma center and only Level IV neonatal intensive care unit), and serves as the tertiary and quaternary referral center for complex ophthalmology cases not easily managed by community ophthalmologists.Many DMEI providers are leading specialists in their fields who not only treat patients but also train other surgeons and serve as primary investigators in clinical trials.

Castle Connolly Top Doctors for 2024 lists 26 DMEI ophthalmologists. This makes DMEI No. 1 among Top Doctors in Ophthalmology in Oklahoma and No. 3 among Top Doctors in the nation (with Wills Eye Hospital at #1 and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at No. 2). Furthering our patient care mission, in 2023 DMEI became the 15th site in the nation to provide Luxturna gene therapy for inherited retinal diseases. Dr. Mahmoud A. Khaimi was the first surgeon in the United States to perform canaloplasty using the new iTrackTM Advance, which he helped develop. DMEI also partnered with Visionary Optics to provide S-map scleral profilometry to fit scleral lens patients who previously were too difficult to fit.

In addition to its direct patient care, DMEI is also highly regarded for its residency and fellowship programs, basic science graduate student and postdoctoral training, and vision research.

In U.S. News & World Report’s 2023-2024 survey, out of 124 academic ophthalmology centers, DMEI/OU ranked #8 nationally among departments affiliated with a public university (No. 22 overall).Its residency program, in affiliation with OU, is ranked #7 by Doximity among public universities (#16 overall).

DMEI’s doctor’s commitment to educating the next generation of ophthalmologists goes beyond the classroom. Faculty such as Tammy L. Yanovitch, MD, MHSc research ways to better train doctors. Yanovitch was part of a study recently published by DMEI and OU in which students’ diagnostic abilities were compared using conventional ophthalmoscopy vs smartphone ophthalmoscopy with the study finding that students performed dramatically better using the smartphone.

This is just one of 90 national presentations and more than 40 peer-reviewed publications from DMEI doctors in the last year.

Visiting lecturers are also a vital component of DMEI’s education efforts. Recent lecturers include:

  • Daniel J. Briceland, MD, 127th AAO president and clinical assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine gave the 31st Annual Walter J. Stark Memorial Lectureship. His topic was “23 Year of Engagement: Importance of Leadership.”
  • Steven J. Fliesler, PhD, professor, vice chair, and director of research in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Buffalo and past president of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology delivered the 7th Annual Robert E. Anderson, MD, PhD Lecture and presented at the 16th Annual OU Vision Workshop.Topics of his two lectures were, “The Long and Winding Road: Impact of Mevalonate Pathway Defects on Retinal Structure and Function” and “Advice for the Emerging Early-Stage Vision Scientists: Do THIS, not THAT!

Judy E. Kim, MD, FARVO, FASRS vice chair of education and medical director of clinical research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and immediate past president of the American Society of Retina Specialists delivered the 43rd annual Tullos O. Coston, MD Lectureship. Her lecture was entitled, “Hot Topics in Retina 2023.”

Ore-Ofe O. Adesina, MD, associate professor and medical director, Cizik Eye Clinic, and director of neuro-ophthalmology at UT Health Houston was a Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma visiting lecturer who spoke on the topic of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”

The vision research program at DMEI is world-renowned.In FY2023, the vision research program at DMEI/OU ranked 16th among public universities (#29 overall) in NIH funding.It was 8th among public universities (#16 overall) in cumulative funding over multiple years from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) in RPB’s 2022 annual report.

Recently, Raju V.S. Raja, PhD was awarded a $1.7 million R01 from the National Institutes of Health to study “Regulators of Photorecptor Aerobic Glycolysis in Retinal Health and Disease,” and Michelle C. Callegan, PhD, FARVO received a $378,500 R21 grant from the National Eye Institute for “Targeting Innate Inflammation Pathways to Treat Ocular Infections.” In March 2023, Martin-Paul Agbaga, PhD was awarded a grant of $168,000 from the Oklahoma Center for Adult Stem Cell Research, which will help Dr. Agbaga generate more data and publish papers on retinal degenerations.

Further enhancing DMEI’s research efforts, in October 2023 the organization was awarded a prestigious $2 million pediatric vision research endowment grant from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation. This is only the second such grant awarded. Matching dollars were provided by the Children’s Health Foundation of Oklahoma and the DMEI Foundation to bring the endowment total to $4 million. Proceeds from this endowment will help underwrite a number of pediatric vision research initiatives and clinical trials.

DMEI’s physicians continue to be leaders in the field of ophthalmology. The Christian Ophthalmology Society honored Dr. R. Michael Siatkowski with the prestigious 2023 J. Lawton Smith Award. Gregory L. Skuta, MD, was selected as the new executive vice president of the American Glaucoma Society and the vice president of the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research. Ann Acers-Warn, MD, MBA was elected vice chair of the American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO). Others with ABO ties include Tammy L. Yanovitch, MD, MHSc who is chair of the ABO Pediatric Ophthalmology Item Development committee and an oral board examiner.In total, seven DMEI faculty members are ABO examiners.

As the only non-profit eye institute in the region, DMEI turns no one away based on income or insurance status. In FY22 and FY23, DMEI provided a combined total of $3.2 million in uncompensated care.

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