Meet a Specialist: Kenneth Chang, MD, MPH
A cataract expert who also has extensive diagnostic expertise, Dr. Kenneth Chang is a full-time member of the Comprehensive Ophthalmology and Cataract Consultation Service at Mass. Eye and Ear.
“I’ve wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember,” he said. The son of a psychiatrist, he thinks that it was probably the time he spent with his grandmother that most shaped his dreams. “She had a heart condition and would come to the U.S. from Seoul for treatment, so I spent a lot of time going to hospitals with her as a kid. Maybe that’s why I like taking care of elderly patients so much,” he added.
In addition to providing comprehensive eye exams, Dr. Chang treats cataracts, mild glaucoma, dry eyes and eye pain. He also specializes in the diagnostic evaluation of blurry vision, which can indicate a range of possible eye disorders, some of which are quite serious.
“When a patient comes in to the Comprehensive Service for evaluation, it’s my job to locate where in the eye the problem is–in the anterior segment, the posterior segment, or somewhere else,” he explained. “Once that’s determined, we can refer the patient to the appropriate eye specialist here. But you can’t begin treatment until you have an accurate diagnosis.”
Dr. Chang attributes his diagnostic insight to the Neuro-Ophthalmology Fellowship he completed at Mass. Eye and Ear under Drs. Joseph Rizzo and Simmons Lessell.
“They’re really the fathers of this generation of neuro-ophthalmologists,” he noted. “They gave me a deep appreciation for all the minute details that can make a huge difference diagnostically.” He recalls one patient for whom that nuanced approach was critical.
“She had dry eyes, and came seeking a third opinion, after a series of failed therapies,” he said. “It seemed odd that one eye was far drier than the other. After a thorough exam, I found that the affected eye did not go up as much as the other, so I began a more detailed examination—the kind we do in neuro-ophthalmology. Ultimately, an MRI scan revealed the cause of her dry eyes: an underlying mass that had invaded her lacrimal gland, which (normally) provides lubrication to the eye. We promptly referred her to our Oculoplastics team, and Dr. Fay removed the tumor.”
Dr. Chang’s other major clinical focus is cataract treatment. He notes that a patient’s additional medical conditions or history of eye conditions can complicate treatment. Educating patients about how to choose the right lens implant is also critical. He noted that some multifocal lenses, for example, may induce mild glare or halo effects at night, making them inappropriate for a truck driver or airline pilot.
“I sometimes have to dissuade people from choosing a particular product that I know will not be medically best for them,” he said. “It’s important to help them make the right decision.”
Dr. Chang received his medical degree from the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, and his ophthalmology residency training at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California before completing his neuro-ophthalmology fellowship at Mass. Eye and Ear. He also received a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health in Baltimore.
Today, Dr. Chang is an Instructor with the Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology, and trains residents and fellows for cataract surgery. He was part of the development team for Mass. Eye and Ear’s Cataract Master™, a computer-based simulation tool that prepares trainees for the complex decision-making involved in cataract surgery.
“It’s a wonderful tool,” Dr. Chang said. “It teaches residents how to anticipate problems, and make the right decision in that surgical moment, just like a pilot does with a flight simulator.”
Dr. Chang is convinced there is no better place to practice–or teach ophthalmology–than Mass. Eye and Ear. “Today my colleagues are the people who wrote the books that I learned from,” he said. “And the students that I’m teaching will write the books that will keep the field growing. So I feel very privileged to be here.”
Contact Dr. Chang’s office at 617-573-3202
View Dr. Chang’s online bio for more information.