Meet a Specialist: Veena S. Rao, M.D., M.Sc.

VeenaRao134x186During medical school, Veena Rao, MD, MSc, saw firsthand just how important eye health is to a person’s quality of life. Being able to help a patient see clearly and prevent vision loss is a rewarding experience that quickly drew her to the field of ophthalmology. “I knew I could have an immense impact on patients’ lives by working in ophthalmology,” she said.  

As a member of the Glaucoma Service at Mass. Eye and Ear, Dr. Rao specializes in the medical and surgical care of glaucoma—a leading cause of blindness worldwide. Often linked to high pressure inside the eye, glaucoma is a group of disorders that damages the eye’s optic nerve, which can result in permanent vision loss.

“When a person is diagnosed with glaucoma, it can be overwhelming,” said Dr. Rao. “Thankfully, today we have a number of medical and, if needed, surgical treatments that can help preserve vision. I enjoy discussing and optimizing those options with my patients. Breaking down the details and answering questions is a meaningful experience for everyone involved,” she said.

Because early diagnosis and careful management of the disease can slow or prevent vision loss, Dr. Rao is studying ways to improve patient education and treatment adherence. This is particularly important because patients with lifelong conditions, especially diseases like glaucoma that have few symptoms in the early stages, are less likely to follow treatment instructions, she explained. In one study, Dr. Rao investigated ophthalmologists’ use of laser trabeculoplasty—a type of laser surgery that can reduce eye pressure. With this work, she hopes to highlight ways to improve the use of technology and ultimately help patients follow their glaucoma treatment plans. She has also researched the effectiveness of various glaucoma educational quizzes to help with patient education initiatives.

To help advance patient care, Dr. Rao has also investigated novel surgical techniques. For instance, she studied the simultaneous implantation of two drainage devices for uncontrolled pressure inside the eye. This technique can be helpful in certain very advanced glaucoma cases.

In addition to seeing patients and performing research, Dr. Rao teaches ophthalmology residents and glaucoma fellows at Mass. Eye and Ear. “Working with trainees is rewarding in so many ways. I enjoy the chance to share my perspectives on glaucoma and surgery, and it is exciting to hear insights from these future specialists—a fresh perspective can sometimes lead to great advances!”

To make an appointment: 617-573-3202

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

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