Meet a Specialist: Allison Soneru, M.D.

head shot of Dr. Soneru

Asked what she loves most about her career, Dr. Allison Soneru easily replies, “Far and away, it’s the privilege of helping patients on a daily basis and advocating for those who can’t advocate for themselves.”

As an Instructor in Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and a Clinical Associate in Ophthalmology at Mass. Eye and Ear, Dr. Soneru manages glaucoma and performs surgery for both glaucoma and cataracts. Her career inspiration came during an international journey to help people in need. Today, patients’ experience at Mass. Eye and Ear is enhanced by Dr. Soneru’s capacity for close patient relationships—a strength she is passing along to the next generation of ophthalmologists.

A Sight-Saving Trip to Ghana

When Dr. Soneru was a medical student, she traveled to Ghana with Unite for Sight, an organization that helps communities around the world improve eye health and eradicate preventable blindness. In Ghana, she was part of a team that ventured into rural areas where people had little or no easy access to eye care.

“We screened people for eye disease and helped local doctors identify who needed glasses and who needed surgery. We were able to give out free glasses on the spot, and we arranged for people with significant cataracts to come to the city of Accra to have cataract surgery,” Dr. Soneru recalls. “In Ghana, I saw the impact of delivering clear vision for people who badly needed glasses, as well as the dramatic restoration of vision for patients who had spent years impaired or blinded by cataracts. It was emotional. The experience of working with those patients solidified my decision to choose ophthalmology.” 

Rewards of Long-Term Patient Relationships

Asked to name an experience with a patient that influenced her, Dr. Soneru has a hard time choosing just one. She considers her connection with patients, particularly the long-term relationships built through years of glaucoma management, to be one of the most rewarding aspects of being an ophthalmologist.

Dr. Soneru recalls the patients who first taught her this lesson. “During my fellowship training, I treated a handful of patients who needed very frequent weekend, late-night, and on-call visits as a result of various complications of glaucoma. Over the course of that year, I became close with those patients. They showed me how rewarding the long-term relationships that we develop with our patients can be.” 

Sharing Expertise with New Doctors

In her role as educator and mentor, Dr. Soneru teaches and trains the ophthalmology residents and glaucoma fellows at VA Boston Healthcare in Jamaica Plain. Together, they focus on all aspects of both clinical and surgical skills pertaining to glaucoma management. Dr. Soneru also helps train the anterior segment fellow at the Mass. Eye and Ear campus, focusing primarily on innovative minimally invasive glaucoma surgeries (MIGS). She is helping improve the educational process for residents as well.

“We’re now in the process of studying and developing improved educational tools for the ophthalmology residents,” she explains. “As we optimize the training environment for these very bright and capable trainees, we can consistently produce knowledgeable and confident ophthalmologists and glaucoma specialists to give their patients the highest quality care.”   

Learn more about Dr. Soneru.

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