Meet a Specialist: Daniel Esmaili, MD
Dr. Daniel Esmaili’s earliest memory of wanting to be a physician dates back to age seven when he was hospitalized for 18 days following a playground accident. “My leg was in a big cast suspended in traction. The orthopedic surgeon and nurses taking care of me turned an otherwise difficult situation into a positive one,” he recalls. Today, as a retina specialist, Dr. Esmaili directs Mass. Eye and Ear Retina Consultants in Stoneham, where he brings the same compassion to his work and follows an abiding philosophy to treat each patient, “as if he or she were a family member.”
The year before he entered medical school, Dr. Esmaili took a job as a research technician in an ophthalmology lab. From there, he pursued medical training at the University of Southern California (USC) Keck School of Medicine and completed an ophthalmology residency at USC’s Doheny Eye Institute. During this time, his interest in ophthalmology grew, in part because of an inspirational mentor -- Mass. Eye and Ear-trained neuro-ophthalmologist, Dr. Afredo Sadun. Dr. Esmaili served as Chief Resident before receiving a prestigious Heed Fellowship and pursuing subspecialty training in Vitreoretinal Surgery at Mass. Eye and Ear. Both of these experiences provided Dr. Esmaili with opportunities to hone his skills at an institution he had long admired.
When he was a resident, the delicate complexity of retina surgery captivated him. Now, Dr. Esmaili says that the far greater satisfaction comes from doing all he can to save a patient’s vision. Recently, a man in his sixties came to him after a failed retinal detachment repair from another ophthalmologist. Dr. Esmaili was able to re-attach his retina, and the patient, who was actually an orthopedic surgeon, recovered his vision.
“Mass. Eye and Ear has really been at the forefront of advancing patient care,” says Dr. Esmaili. He notes that its clinician scientists have contributed to vastly improved outcomes for patients with ophthalmic disease and retinal disease, in particular. In fact, the most common cause of severe vision loss in patients over the age of 50 is the result of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which causes the central portion of the retina, called the macula, to deteriorate. Until recently, a diagnosis of the more aggressive “wet” form of AMD meant the patient was almost certainly destined to lose central vision in the affected eye.
That prognosis radically improved starting around the year 2000 with the advent of photodynamic laser therapy and the subsequent development of eye-injectable medicines that treat AMD. These new therapies revolutionized the treatment and prognosis of AMD and were the result of decades-long investigations led by a group of Harvard Medical School scientists among others, including Department of Ophthalmology Chief and Chair, Dr. Joan Miller, and Mass. Eye and Ear Retina Service Director, Dr. Evangelos Gragoudas. “Now instead of just limiting vision loss, we can often improve vision,” says Dr. Esmaili, who counts Drs. Miller and Gragoudas among his chief mentors at Mass. Eye and Ear.
Today Dr. Esmaili is a mentor himself -- a role that he finds particularly satisfying. “Teaching expands your clinical impact,” he explains. “When you are sharing your expertise and training young ophthalmologists who are learning how to perform retina surgery, you are helping to improve care for the potentially thousands of patients they will care for over the years.”
Dr. Esmaili’s research interests center on retinal imaging, particularly the use of optical coherence tomography, or OCT, for diagnostic guidance in the management of AMD. This non-invasive technology permits ophthalmologists to obtain virtual cross-sections of the patient’s retina. Dr. Esmaili studies ways to apply this powerful technology to retinal disease in order to tailor treatments for individuals suffering from AMD among other conditions affecting the macula.
Contact Dr. Esmaili's office at 781-662-5520.
View Dr. Esmaili’s online bio for more information.