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A “doctor’s doctor” is a familiar expression to most people and one that aptly describes Dr. Roberto Pineda II, a cornea expert and refractive surgeon whose patients often include Harvard Medical School faculty and their families. Dr. Pineda is Director of Refractive Surgery and a member of the Cornea Service at Massachusetts Eye and Ear. A co-investigator on the clinical trials that led to the first FDA approvals for excimer laser surgery, Dr. Pineda has advanced expertise in managing and treating complex cataract and refractive surgery cases.
“We have a very long history of doing refractive surgery here at Mass. Eye and Ear,” Dr. Pineda noted. “Today we offer the latest refractive surgical techniques available. And we’re dedicated to making sure that patients achieve the best care and best results possible.”
Refractive surgery, also known as laser vision correction, or LASIK, is now considered routine for correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Dr. Pineda meets with patients before every procedure to explain the surgery and answer questions. He believes these meetings are essential for building rapport and ensuring good communication with every patient before, during, and after treatment.
“LASIK is still surgery, and it’s important that patients understand all the benefits and potential risks,” he explained. “We make sure that every patient is well-screened, and if they’re not a good candidate for LASIK, we don’t proceed. If we decide to go forward, then it’s important for me to understand the patient’s personal and professional vision goals so I can tailor the treatment to their needs.”
Dr. Pineda is widely consulted for his expertise in anterior segment reconstruction (a group of surgical techniques used to repair damage to the front of the eye such as the cornea, iris, or pupil), and may be required as a result of trauma, infection or post-surgical complications. He also frequently treats patients who require secondary surgeries following routine cataract surgery. “Many of these patients come to me because of poor fit with an intraocular lens. That may cause problems, such as halo, glare, or poor quality vision. We can often correct these problems.”
Dr. Pineda has brought many new surgical techniques and technologies to Mass. Eye and Ear and New England, including the use of specialized infrared lasers and novel corneal transplantation procedures. More recently, he performed the first successful corneal transplant using preloaded donor tissue, an innovative technique that preclinical studies show can minimize cell damage in donor tissue by as much as 25 percent. All of these techniques have vastly improved the quality of patient care, Dr. Pineda noted, by reducing the likelihood of transplant rejection and accelerating visual rehabilitation.
Dr. Pineda is also helping to pioneer a new therapeutic approach for corneal neovascularization (uncontrolled blood vessel growth), which often arises as the result of herpes, shingles or other disorders. As part of the ongoing research at Mass. Eye and Ear, Dr. Pineda is exploring the use of anti-VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) agents to treat corneal neovascularization; these agents are a well-established and effective treatment to stop and often reverse blood vessel growth in the back of the eye (retina), and show promise for effectiveness in the cornea. “Right now we treat patients with steroid drops,” he explained, “but it would be great to be able to offer patients an effective alternative.”
Dr. Pineda is passionately committed to improving global eye health. As a 14-year veteran for ORBIS International—an organization dedicated to eliminating preventable blindness worldwide—Dr. Pineda has participated as a volunteer faculty member on annual mission trips to underserved and medically undertrained countries where he provides local ophthalmologists with hands-on surgical and clinical training. ORBIS’ strong focus on educating and training a complete medical core of personnel is a philosophy that appeals to Dr. Pineda. “As visiting volunteer faculty, I screen patients, do surgical demonstrations, give lectures, and teach.” he said. “Missions typically last just for one week, but my contributions have lasting impact due to the on-going work of the local clinicians who learn and develop new skills.”
Dr. Pineda also is working with Mass. Eye and Ear’s office of Global Surgery and Health and HMS colleagues to establish a collaborative training program with Dhulikhel Hospital, a Kathmandu University teaching hospital located outside of Nepal. The goal is to provide advanced cataract surgical and didactic training to local physicians using advanced tools and techniques.
As an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Pineda is deeply involved in the clinical and surgical training of medical students, residents and fellows. Additionally, he directs the International Council of Ophthalmology fellowship at Mass. Eye and Ear, and co-directs the nationally renowned Harvard Intensive Cataract Surgical Training Course for Second-Year Residents, now in its 10th year.
Contact Dr. Pineda’s office at 617-573-4393.
View Dr. Pineda’s online bio for more information.