Meet a Specialist: Yan Jiang, O.D.

Jiang CopyAn optometrist with the Optometry and Contact Lens Service at Mass. Eye and Ear, Dr. Jiang also brings an ophthalmologist’s perspective to her work with patients. Originally from China, she received medical training at China’s Yanbian University College of Medicine, where she then served as a staff ophthalmologist for several years. She was later appointed a visiting ophthalmologist at Fukushima Medical University in Japan, and subsequently completed her PhD in ophthalmology and cell chemistry at Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, also in Japan.

Today Dr. Jiang – who speaks both Chinese and Japanese – sees patients at Mass. Eye and Ear’s Charles Street and Longwood locations. She provides comprehensive eye care and ocular disease treatment as well as expert contact lens fittings, including soft contact lenses, rigid gas permeables, multifocal lenses, hybrids and scleral lenses.

“Our role is to provide primary care. If patients need surgery or have other more complex needs, we connect them to subspecialty care at Mass. Eye and Ear, where they can receive the best ophthalmic care available.”

And, she adds, the extensive clinical training of Mass. Eye and Ear’s optometrists means the Optometry and Contact Lens Service provides primary care with a focus on the total health of the eye. “We will fit someone for glasses,” she notes, “but that happens within the context of a comprehensive exam, supported by the most advanced instrumentation and ocular equipment.”

Dr. Jiang views every clinical visit as an educational opportunity. “Teaching is a very important aspect of caring for patients,” she says. “That means explaining whatever eye conditions they may have, and any care instructions that must be followed to protect their eyes and their vision.”

For example, she notes, some patients don’t take care of their contact lenses properly. “So we talk about lens solutions, about how to store, handle and disinfect lenses.” she says. “Proper contact lens care greatly reduces the risk of all contact lens-related eye infections, including those caused by Acanthamoeba, which exists in the water. The risk is even greater if you clean your lenses with tap water or homemade solution, instead of disinfecting solution.”

Unfortunately, Dr. Jiang has seen such cases – young adults with Acanthamoeba infection due to improper lens care. “Acanthamoeba keratitis can be extremely difficult to treat.” she explains. “It can cause complications and corneal scarring, which is what happened in those cases. Sometimes these infections require a corneal transplant, which is a serious surgical procedure. That’s why I focus on education – to make sure I do everything possible to help my patients avoid such problems.”

One of Dr. Jiang’s great pleasures as an optometrist at Mass. Eye and Ear is that she can help ease the language barrier that previously kept some of her patients from explaining and understanding their eye problems.

“One older woman who came to see me was so happy to be able to speak Chinese with me,” she says. “She had lots of questions about her eyes, but had never been able to express herself in English. With me, she found that she was finally able to understand everything because we spoke in Chinese.” Dr. Jiang says her patient’s parting words were “I’ll tell all my friends about you!”

Dr. Jiang’s love of teaching serves her well at Harvard Medical School, where she teaches residents on topics such as retinoscopy, which is a method used to determine a patient’s refractive error. After completing a Mass. Eye and Ear research fellowship in 2008, she earned her OD from New England College of Optometry. Remarkably, she completed the four-year graduate program in two years, earning the College’s highest award for academic achievement. “It was because of my training back in China that I was able to finish so quickly,” she explains. “I had the benefit of my ophthalmology background, while most other students entered the program having to start with the basics.”

Contact Dr. Jiang’s office at 617-573-3185.

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

Request an appointment.