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Meet a Specialist: Kathryn Colby, M.D., Ph.D.

Kathryn Colby, M.D., Ph.D. has served Massachusetts Eye and Ear in many different capacities since she first arrived for an ophthalmology residency almost 18 years ago. A committed believer in the three-pronged mission of Harvard Medical School, Dr. Colby is now a busy cornea surgeon who sees patients, teaches medical students, residents and fellows, and is actively conducting research into blinding diseases of the cornea.

One of Dr. Colby’s areas of expertise is Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy, which is an enigmatic condition in which the inner layer of the cornea (the transparent dome that covers the pupil) stops pumping fluid from the normally clear tissue. When this happens, the cornea becomes water-logged, thickened and cloudy, which causes painful blindness. Besides spearheading laboratory studies of this condition, Dr. Colby has been actively involved in advancing new surgical techniques, such as DSEK and selective endothelial transplantation, to treat patients with Fuchs’ Dystrophy.

Dr. Colby is also an expert in the management of tumors on the surface of the eye and she has recently begun a study to determine if cancer stem cells play a role in conjunctival melanoma, a rare but potentially deadly eye cancer that is similar to skin melanoma.

Dr. Colby’s real love, however, is caring for patients with complicated corneal diseases and passing that knowledge on to those in training. “It’s gratifying to be able to show talented young people why you love your specialty,” she says.

Dr. Colby, who earned her doctorate in neurobiology at Brown University, is also actively involved in clinical research. She played a role in the recently-approved implantable miniature telescope that helps treat end-stage macular degeneration. She is also part of an ongoing clinical trial that is evaluating the safety and efficacy of collagen cross-linking to stop the progression of keratoconus, a condition in which vision is reduced due to an abnormal shape of the cornea.

“Being at a place like Mass. Eye and Ear allows me to offer my patients cutting-edge treatments, including experimental therapies,” says Dr. Colby. “Helping patients, after all, is the real reason we are all here.”

Contact Dr. Colby’s office at 617-573-3938.

View Dr. Colby’s online bio for more information.

Request an appointment.