Meet a Specialist: Lucy Q. Shen, MD
One could say that glaucoma specialist, Dr. Lucy Shen, began her career in ophthalmology in middle school, where she dissected a cow’s eye during biology class. “It was fascinating to lift the lens out of the eye and see inverted images through it. That evening, I looked up the word ophthalmology and hoped to know more about it someday,” she says. Today, Dr. Shen knows a lot more about ophthalmology. As a physician scientist and a member of the Glaucoma Service at Mass. Eye and Ear, Dr. Shen possesses in-depth clinical, surgical, and scientific expertise about cataract and glaucoma disease and management.
Glaucoma is a condition that damages the optic nerve. With no known cure, glaucoma is a challenging disease to manage. However, Dr. Shen is committed to improving the quality of life for her patients. According to Dr. Shen, being a specialist is “not just about providing the standard of care, but also going above and beyond that to do what’s best for each patient.”
In a diverse patient population, understanding that each patient is unique with individual needs is extremely important. For example, a patient with a cataract and glaucoma came to Dr. Shen for treatment, but was challenged by a very busy international travel schedule. Dr. Shen recognizes that flexibility is the cornerstone of high-quality care and was able to accommodate her patient’s needs and schedules.
For other individuals, eye emergencies require immediate attention. Open 24/7, the Mass. Eye and Ear emergency room is staffed with a team of specialists who manage conditions resulting from eye trauma. Dr. Shen notes that glaucoma related to trauma can be very difficult to treat with medication, but surgery does an effective job of lowering high pressure and restoring health to the eye.
For Dr. Shen, delivering individualized care also means engaging patients in the decision-making process surrounding their care. Dr. Shen reflects, “It is really gratifying to work with my patients and their families as a team to tackle a challenging disease.” She feels privileged to have her patients share their life stories with her. In fact, she says that her patients, and their stories of struggle and triumph, are some of the greatest teachers in her life. “They inspire me to be a better physician and a better person,” she notes.
Working at a teaching hospital also allows Dr. Shen to share her passion for ophthalmology as a mentor to residents and fellows. Recently, Dr. Shen and colleagues redesigned the training curriculum for senior residents. This resulted in better continuity of care and “really helped to integrate residents into the team,” says Dr. Shen. Subsequently, patients are benefiting from this streamlined approach.
Over the past decade, Dr. Shen has been honored with numerous awards and scholarships for research. Dr. Shen is trying to figure out why some eyes develop glaucoma, but others do not. Of particular interest is how newer technologies, such as imaging, can be used to better monitor glaucoma. Imaging research can also contribute to a clearer understanding of how disease originates and progresses. Dr. Shen is also developing a technique that will reduce elevated pressure in the eye, which occurs in some patients following Boston Keratoprosthesis (KPro) surgery (implantation of an artificial cornea). Where do Dr. Shen’s research ideas come from? “Most of my research topics were inspired by my patients. They challenge me to look beyond the standard of care,” she comments. Dr. Shen is a perfect example of how physician scientists combine their clinical and research experience to improve patient care.
“My patients are my top priority,” says Dr. Shen. “They are the reason for my research. It is encouraging to know that new discoveries are on the horizon to improve the treatment we have for glaucoma.”
Contact Dr. Shen’s office at 617-573-3670
View Dr. Shen’s online bio for more information.