Meet a Specialist: David A. Solá-Del Valle, M.D.
When David A. Solá-Del Valle, M.D. saw his first glaucoma laser surgery, he was hooked. The specialty combines everything he loves about medicine—the ability to form long-term relationship with patients, while providing medical and surgical care.
Today, Dr. Solá cares for patients with all forms of glaucoma—a potentially blinding group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve—at Mass. Eye and Ear and the VA Boston Healthcare System. He also sees many patients who have glaucoma and cataracts, both of which occur more frequently with age.
“I love that there is so much variety in the patients I see and surgeries I perform,” Dr. Solá says. Depending on many factors, such as the patient’s age and the type and severity of glaucoma, treatment may include medications and/or surgery.
“With glaucoma early diagnosis and prompt treatment are vital to slow or stop vision loss. However, symptoms often go unnoticed until the advanced stages of the disease. That’s why it’s so important to have an annual eye exam if you have any known risk factors, such as a family history of glaucoma," he says.
Because glaucoma is a lifelong condition that requires regular monitoring, Dr. Solá develops close relationships with his patients. He treats them as if they were family. “When I see a patient, I think: ‘What would I do for my mom?’ That mindset guides my whole practice,” he says.
Dr. Solá is also fluent in Italian, French, and Spanish, which is very helpful when meeting with his diverse patient population. “I speak at least one language besides English every single day in the clinic,” he says.
Experienced in Latest Glaucoma Surgeries
Dr. Solá has unique expertise in minimally invasive glaucoma surgeries, or MIGS. This new group of surgeries is a promising treatment option that can sometimes be used in place of medicated eye drops or as an alternative to major surgery. During MIGS, tiny incisions are made with microscopically sized equipment, resulting in fewer complications and faster recovery times compared to traditional surgery, Dr. Solá explains. Another benefit—most MIGS procedures can be combined with cataract surgery.
“MIGS isn’t for everyone though, especially those with advanced glaucoma. There are a lot of factors that need to be considered, including the patient’s age and the type and severity of the glaucoma, Dr. Solá says.
Adolescents with juvenile open-angle glaucoma are often good candidates for MIGS procedures. “It can be difficult for teenagers to take their medications—not just once, but three to five times a day. Having a MIGS procedure might enable them to stop some of their medications for a while and provide some relief,” says Dr. Solá. Learn about MIGS procedures at Mass. Eye and Ear.
Who are the Best Candidates for MIGS?
MIGS procedures are very promising because they are generally safer than traditional glaucoma surgeries. But there’s still more to learn about their effectiveness. Dr. Solá is conducting research to better understand who is most likely to benefit from specific MIGS procedures. Read more about this research.
Teaching Future Glaucoma Specialists
As a Harvard Ophthalmology faculty member, Dr. Solá is a mentor to senior residents and glaucoma fellows. “I love working with trainees in the OR and clinic. They are sponges—eager to absorb as much information as possible,” says Dr. Solá, who is an alumnus of the Harvard Ophthalmology Residency Training Program.
View Dr. Solá’s clinical profile
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