Cornea, Refractive Surgery, and External Disease Fellowship

Program Director: James Chodosh, M.D. M.P.H.
Associate Director: Hajirah N. Saeed, M.D.
Other Faculty: H. Peggy Chang, M.D.; Joseph Ciolino, M.D.; Reza Dana, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc.; Emma C. Davies, M.D.; Claes H. Dohlman, M.D., Ph.D.; Kathryn Hatch, M.D.; Deborah Jacobs, M.D. (Part-time); Ula Jurkunas, M.D.; Z. Katie Luo, M.D., Ph.D.; Samir Melki, M.D., Ph.D. (Part-time); Roberto Pineda, M.D.; Aisha S. Traish, M.D.; Jia Yin, M.D., Ph.D


With an unparalleled record of training and mentoring the leaders in the field, Mass. Eye and Ear's Cornea, External Disease, and Refractive Surgery Fellowship Program has served as the foundation for many academic leaders throughout the world. Including our basic scientists, we have more than 35 Cornea faculty members and 115 MDs and PhDs who are engaged in corneal research.

Cornea fellows develop advanced diagnostic and surgical skills by providing care for patients with a wide variety of complex disorders of the anterior segment. Fellows will:

  • Examine patients and/or research subjects in the Cornea Service
  • Participate in corneal and refractive surgeries
  • Provide consultation for Massachusetts General Hospital, Shriners Hospital Boston, and Brigham & Women’s Hospital inpatients
  • Respond to patient requests and helping with medical needs
  • Be available for emergency visits on call
  • Attend lectures
  • Prepare and deliver case presentations in Cornea Rounds and department-wide Grand Rounds
  • And other tasks, as needed

One-Year versus Two-Year Fellowship

The standard Cornea Fellowship is an intensive one-year program. About 90% of the time is spent providing clinical care, with the rest available for research. Most fellows spend research time performing clinically oriented studies, including reviews, case series, and book chapters. The Fellowship Match # for this 1-year program is 4253.

Fellows with a serious interest in basic or clinical research can dedicate an additional year—typically before the clinical year—to both research and academic development. Prospective fellows who want to pursue a research year should contact Dr. Reza Dana, Director of the Cornea Service. The Fellowship Match # for this 2-year program is 4292.


All applicants must be eligible for a full (unlimited) medical license per the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine. International medical graduates must also be eligible for an H1B visa. (Eligibility includes passing all 3 steps of the USMLE test, and reporting of results to Mass. Eye and Ear before the Match deadline.) The requirements of full licensure can be viewed on the website.

Clinical Activities

Each fellow will commit about 90% of their time to patient care for one year on the Cornea Service, which is located on the first floor of Mass. Eye and Ear. The facility is fully equipped with examination lanes and state-of-the-art laser vision diagnostic technologies, two in vivo confocal microscopes, an anterior segment OCT, and a slit lamp video camera. It also has two excimer lasers (Visx S4, Alcon Wavelight Allegretto) and an Intralase femtosecond laser.

Fellows are exposed to the entire spectrum of refractive surgery technologies and techniques, such as: 

  • Penetrating keratoplasty
  • Ocular surface reconstruction
  • Lamellar and endothelial transplantation
  • Keratoprosthesis implantation

The average number of surgical procedures performed by Mass. Eye and Ear Cornea fellows as primary surgeon in 2016-2017 compared very favorably with national averages:

Surgical Procedure  Number performed by Mass. Eye and Ear fellows  National averages (based on AUPO data for 2015-2016) 
Corneal transplant 22  15
Endothelial keratoplasty 43  32 
DMEK, Phaco/IOL 51 (no data) 
LASIK 74  22 
PRK 48  18
Total as primary surgeon 321  171 
Total surgeries, including assists 647  314 

Clinical activities include the following:

Outpatient Clinics: The medical management of refractive, corneal, and external disorders, as well as the preoperative evaluation and postoperative care of surgical cases, are cornerstones of this fellowship program. Accordingly, fellows are integrally involved in the care of patients at Mass. Eye and Ear's main campus (at Charles St.) and Longwood and Waltham locations. Fellows also see patients at the Boston Eye Group (BEG) with Dr. Melki in Brookline.

Surgery: The surgical experience of the cornea fellow is derived from the large surgical volume of the Cornea Service faculty. Generally, fellows will operate on all major and minor corneal and complicated anterior segment procedures regularly performed by faculty. Assisting on routine cataract surgery is not a requirement of the fellowship, although there is ample opportunity to be involved in phaco/IOL surgery on select cases.

Refractive Surgery Service: The cornea fellows actively participate in the Refractive Surgery Service, including preoperative evaluations, surgery, and postoperative care.

Emergency Room Attending Coverage: Each fellow is required to provide 24 half-day sessions of coverage in the Mass. Eye and Ear Emergency Department, during which they see patients and teach residents and medical students.

Burn Consults: Fellows also take turns providing consultation services to patients at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Shriners Hospital Boston, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, under the direct supervision of Drs. Chodosh and Saeed.

BostonSight and PROSE: Fellows may spend several days at BostonSight (in Needham, Massachsuetts) to learn about PROSE (prosthetic replacement of the ocular surface ecosystem) and other types of contact lenses for the rehabilitation of irregular astigmatism and ocular surface disease. They will work under the supervision of Daniel C. Brocks, M.D., Chief Medical Officer. 

Research Activities

Fellows are expected to participate in clinical research projects of the faculty of the Cornea Service. Participation includes becoming familiar with the various active projects and protocols and performing study assessments as needed.

Additional Activities

Teaching: Cornea fellows are an important educational resource for medical students and residents. They interact directly with trainees in the Cornea Clinic and serve as both consultants and attendings in the Emergency Ward. Fellows may provide these services independently, or in collaboration with a Cornea Service faculty member, depending on the complexity of the case and fellow’s level of expertise.

Scholarship: Each fellow is expected to participate in the Fellows’ Course. During the course, fellows work under the mentorship of faculty to help prepare a publishable manuscript.

Conferences: The Department of Ophthalmology Grand Rounds are held weekly on Thursdays at 8am. A 60% attendance rate or higher is expected of each fellow. Each fellow gives one 30-minute Grand Rounds presentation during their fellowship year. 

Fellows also participate in ongoing cornea clubs, including the Refractive Club, Imaging Club, and general Cornea Club. During these informal meetings, fellows and attendings  discuss interesting cases, and are held in the early evening with dinner provided. 

Fellows also attend the New Frontiers in Cornea Research meeting, held every two to three months in the early evening. During the meeting, a paired clinician and basic scientist discuss topics in corneal diseases.

The Cornea Service also hosts a Visiting Professor Lecture Series, typically four times each year, by leading cornea experts from around the world. Fellows prepare and present interesting cases within the visiting professors’ areas of expertise, with live patient examinations. 

Finally, Mass. Eye and Ear has extensive formal didactics, including daily lectures (primarily geared to ophthalmology residents) and numerous courses and conferences.

Funding and Benefits

Salary: $62,000/1st year, $66,000/2nd year (for 2-year fellows)

Malpractice: The the Cornea Service pays for malpractice premiums through the Harvard CRICO program.

Health Insurance: Family health insurance will be provided through the benefits program of Massachusetts Eye and Ear Associates. The fellow will need to contribute to this benefit as well, according to Mass. Eye and Ear guidelines.

Vacation and Sick Leave: Each fellow is allowed 3 weeks (15 work days) of combined vacation/meeting time and 1 personal day per year. (Vacation does not accrue year to year.) Requests for time away from the Service must be submitted in written form 60 days in advance for pre-approval by the fellowship director or the service director. Up to 5 additional days may be taken with the approval of the fellowship or service director for a major ophthalmology conference or academic meeting at which the fellow is a first author presenting original research (i.e., the fellow has not presented the data before.) Mass. Eye and Ear’s calendar also includes 9 legal holidays per year. Vacation should only be requested one week at a time and must not coincide with the vacation of another cornea fellow. Vacation cannot be taken during June or July. The formal vacation policy will be given to incoming fellows during their orientation.

Professional Meetings: Attendance and participation at appropriate professional meetings is encouraged. Travel expenses—not exceeding $2,200 and up to five days per academic year—may be taken with the approval of the fellowship or service director for a major ophthalmology conference or academic meeting at which the fellow is a first author presenting original research (i.e., the fellow has not presented the data before). If the fellow is not presenting original research, then vacation time may be used and travel expenses up to $800 will be reimbursed per academic year. Please note that the amount of $2,200 is maximum per academic year. Any additional support for meetings will need to come from the faculty sponsor (for each specific project).

Note: The fellowship program has no restrictive covenants.

How to Apply

The Cornea Fellowship participates in the San Francisco Match Program

  • One Year Program: Match # 4253
  • Two-Year Program: Match # 4292

Only completed applications will be considered for interview. It is the candidate’s responsibility to make sure that his or her application is complete. Applicant interviews will be conducted in October or November.

Page Last Updated

July 11, 2018