Meet a Specialist: Jonathan Talamo, M.D.

TalamoJonathan170x243Raised by two academicians (a neuroscientist and pediatric pulmonologist), Dr. Talamo continues the family tradition as a cornea specialist who is actively involved in the development of emerging technologies to treat eye diseases. Not only does he possess expertise in laser-assisted refractive and cataract surgeries—he has trained hundreds of surgeons and published dozens of scientific papers—but he also has extensive knowledge of innovative treatment options for his patients, such as corneal collagen cross-linking to halt the progression of keratoconus, intraoperative wavefront monitoring, and implantable toric and multifocal intraocular lenses to improve the accuracy of cataract surgery.  He sees patients at Mass. Eye and Ear’s Waltham location.

As a student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. Talamo was excited by the microsurgical techniques that ophthalmologists used and the spectacular clinical outcomes that were possible, which in turn ignited his desire to specialize in ophthalmology. He went on to complete an ophthalmology residency at Johns Hopkins followed by a fellowship in corneal and external disease at Mass. Eye and Ear.  

Today, medical technology still excites Dr. Talamo and fuels his commitment to advancing treatment options for his patients.  Dr. Talamo is a well-known authority in the areas of laser vision correction and image-guided laser assisted cataract surgery.  In the 1990s, he led many of Mass. Eye and Ear’s early clinical trials that contributed to FDA approval of excimer lasers for PRK and LASIK corneal refractive surgery.  In more recent years, he was the first ophthalmologist in Massachusetts to perform all-laser (“bladeless”) LASIK vision correction surgery and laser-assisted cataract surgery. 

Dr. Talamo and his colleagues are currently participating in a national clinical trial of corneal collagen cross-linking; this procedure can stop the progression of keratoconus, a progressive and degenerative disease that distorts the cornea and impairs vision in patients. “At the present time, we are the only trial site in New England,” he noted. 

Widely used in Europe, corneal collagen cross-linking strengthens the cornea to halt or slow the progression of keratoconus.  By saturating the eye with Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, and then exposing the eye to ultraviolet light, the connections between the collagen fibers that are the cornea’s connective tissue are enhanced.  

Recently, a 12 year-old with keratoconus came to see Dr. Talamo. Contact lenses were one potential short-term option for the child, but lenses would not halt progression of the disease, which could lead to severe vision loss and require a cornea transplant. Fortunately the child was able to participate in the cross-linking trial, which may prevent the need for a corneal transplant, a much more invasive procedure.

Clinical excellence, however, requires more than just advanced science, noted Dr. Talamo. “Patients have strong emotions – and sometimes anxieties – about their eyes,” he explained. “One of my top priorities is to empathize with my patients and really get to know each person.  Communicating truthfully and clearly is very important. I want to be their partner so we can move forward together.”

Dr. Talamo appreciates being part of Mass. Eye and Ear because the institution’s ophthalmology community mirrors his own values. “Among the physicians, surgeons, scientists and trainees, there is tremendous emphasis on advancing state-of-the-art clinical care, but never at the expense of the doctor-patient relationship,” he explained. “Not every ophthalmologist gets to practice with colleagues who also believe the medicine of tomorrow needs to be better than the medicine of today. Mass. Eye and Ear has always been one of those places, and for that, I am grateful.”

Contact Dr. Talamo’s office in Waltham at 781-890-1023.

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

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