Vitreoretinal Fellowship of the Retina Service

The Vitreoretinal Fellowship of Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School was established in 1977 and offers comprehensive training in the surgical and medical management of diseases of the retina, vitreous and choroid. This is accomplished through extensive opportunities for hands-on participation in subspecialty clinics and in vitreoretinal procedures under the supervision of the Retina Service faculty.

Our mission is to train highly motivated individuals to become academic and clinical leaders in the field. The two-year fellowship is unique in that it provides an intense clinical experience while allowing ample time to engage in significant academic pursuits. As a result, the fellowship has been successful in producing extremely well trained vitreoretinal specialists, who also have experience in basic or applied ophthalmic research. The Vitreoretinal Fellowship has graduated numerous professors of ophthalmology, retina service directors, academic chairpersons, and a dean of a medical school. In addition, many retina specialists also choose to go into private-practice.

All applicants must be eligible for a full 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 and reporting results to Mass. Eye and Ear prior to the Match deadline). The requirements of full licensure can be viewed on the website.

Program Director

Dean Eliott, M.D. - Associate Director, Retina Service


Full time

Part time

  • Christopher Andreoli, M.D.
  • Dong (Dawn) Yang, M.D.

The Program

Length of program

Two years, with a start date of July 7th

Fellows per year

Three for 2016 start.

Selection criteria

  • Board eligible in ophthalmology
  • ACGME-accredited ophthalmology residency or equivalent
  • USMLE parts I, II and III passed
  • Full Massachusetts license
  • Evaluation of application material including curriculum vitae
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Personal interviews
  • Ophthalmology Match process [SF Match Program # 4067]

Educational objectives

Clinically, the fellow will be able to demonstrate competency in the diagnosis of diseases of the retina, vitreous, and choroid including techniques of:
  • Comprehensive examination of the retina, vitreous and choroid
  • Fluorescein angiography
  • ICG angiography
  • Ultrasonography
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Autofluorescence
  • Electroretinography

Additionally, he/she will be able demonstrate competency in laser treatment of retinal and choroidal diseases.

As a researcher, the fellow will be able to critically review clinical and research articles, and successfully carry out a significant research project that can be presented at national or international meetings and published in a peer-reviewed journal.


  • Participation in Retina Service clinics, surgeries and laser treatments
  • Participation in Retina/Macula Conference, Surgical Retina Conference, and Tutorials in the Retina Service, Grand Rounds, and Fellows Course
  • Participation in research projects under supervision of Retina Service preceptors
  • Supervision and teaching of residents and medical students in the Retina Service and in the Emergency Department
  • Attendance and presentation at meetings such as: Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), Retina Society, and American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)


  • Dean Eliott, M.D. - Program Director
  • Retina Service attendings during clinical responsibilities
  • Retina Service research preceptors during research

Evaluation process

Evaluation by the Retina Service faculty every four months

Appointments during fellowship

Clinical Fellow in Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear 
Clinical Fellow in Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School
Clinical Fellow, Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital

Funding sources

Retina Service (first year $52,000, second year $55,000)
This can be supplemented by a Heed Fellowship (100% of stipend to the fellow) and other extramural and intramural fellowships or grants (50% of stipend to the fellow, 50% to the Retina Service).

Duty hours

Clinical coverage: Monday-Friday, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
Fellows are on call one week approximately every six weeks. First-year fellows start call in October.

Years in existence

35 years (1977 to present)

Clinical Facilities

The Retina Service is located on the 12th floor of the Mass. Eye and Ear. The current facility is fully equipped with examination lanes, procedure rooms, and state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment. We routinely perform Heidelberg and Zeiss spectral domain OCT, digital fundus and anterior segment photography, fluorescein and indocyanine green angiography, SLO videoangiography, RetCam and Optos photography and angiography, B-scan and A-scan ultrasonography, and UBM.

A fully equipped Laser Center is also located on the 12th floor. The lasers include argon, diode, YAG, Pascal, and PDT systems.

Clinical Responsibilities

1. Surgery

Extensive opportunities for participation in vitreoretinal surgery and laser procedures are provided. Emphasis is placed on gaining hands-on surgical experience, particularly in state-of-the-art vitreoretinal surgery including 20, 23 and 25 gauge surgical systems. In addition, each fellow will gain experience in the management of complicated vitreoretinal conditions, including ocular trauma, intraocular foreign bodies, complex retinal detachments (proliferative vitreoretinopathy, giant retinal tears, complicated proliferative diabetic retinopathy, and pediatric retinal detachments), and biopsy of retina and choroid. Fellows serve as primary surgeons or first-assistants depending on the complexity of the case and the ability of the fellow. The fellow will also assist on, or in some cases supervise with the Retina Service staff member present, cases where a resident is the surgeon. Fellows actively participate in the preoperative, intraoperative and postoperative management of all patients managed in the Retina Service.

2. Medical Retina

More than 2,500 fluorescein angiograms are performed annually in the Fluorescein Angiography Unit of the Retina Service. Indocyanine green angiography and SLO videoangiography are also performed. The second year fellows, working with the residents on the retina rotation, supervise the interpretation and reporting of angiograms. There is a weekly Retina Conference, at which time particularly interesting cases are prepared and presented by the resident to the first year fellows. In general, the majority of the cases presented are medical retina cases, although surgical cases are occasionally presented. The Retina Conference is a cornerstone in the teaching of fellows, and aims to create a systematic approach towards the diagnosis and treatment of retinal disease. The second year fellows serve in a teaching capacity to assist the residents as they prepare the cases.
In addition, medical retina patients are seen in every clinic, and the fellows gain extensive experience in the diagnosis and management of macular diseases. The fellow also has an opportunity to treat patients with a variety of posterior segment inflammatory disorders. Furthermore, a unique aspect to the fellowship is the extensive exposure to the diagnosis and management of intraocular tumors.

3. On-Call Schedule

As the only ocular emergency center in New England, the Emergency Department at the Mass. Eye and Ear draws patients from a large geographical area with significant vitreoretinal disease. This allows for the fellow to be involved in the surgical and medical management of interesting and often complex cases. The call duties also include coverage of established Retina Service patients. Call is covered one week at a time and is shared among the six fellows.

Educational Responsibilities

Fellows have traditionally played an integral role in the education of residents. During the first year, fellows serve as attending staff to the residents in the Emergency Department one half day per week.

Although fellows are not responsible for giving didactic lectures to the residents, they are involved in helping organize Retina Conference cases (as mentioned above), and in addition, the fellows are responsible for presenting a case at Grand Rounds approximately once per year. Each year there is a Fellows Course at Mass. Eye and Ear. Once during the fellowship, the fellow is expected to write a review paper that will be published as in an ophthalmic journal, undertaken with faculty mentorship. There is a tradition of excellent teaching by the Retina Service fellows, and this has been well appreciated and recognized by the residents. Many of the annual Fellow of the Year Awards given by the residents for the best teacher among the fellows have been given to a Retina Service fellow.

Research Responsibilities

The fellowship provides significant time toward the pursuit of basic, clinical, or translational research. The Retina Service will help fellows prepare applications for support from private sources (e.g. The Heed Foundation, Fight for Sight, Inc., etc.) and public sources (e.g. NIH National Research Service Awards). According to the bylaws of the Mass. Eye and Ear Fellowship Committee, the fellow will receive 50% of any stipend in addition to his salary while 50% goes to the Retina Service (except for the Heed where the fellow receives 100%). The Retina Service fellows have been extremely successful in getting external funding, such as the Heed Fellowship.

Research opportunities are currently available in many areas. The Retina Service faculty members are involved in a wide variety of projects encompassing a full spectrum of investigation from clinical trials and epidemiology to basic science bench research. Many examples can be viewed at the following web sites:

The fellow can also tap into the extensive research community in the Boston area. Even within ophthalmology and eye research, this community is quite extensive, and includes the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass. Eye and Ear and Joslin Diabetes Center to name two. It is required, though, that the fellow design a project in which a Retina Service faculty is an integral member of the research team. In this regard, the faculty member serves as the intramural research preceptor for the fellow.

Many Retina Service fellows have been successful in conducting research that resulted in publication in peer-reviewed journals, such as Nature. In addition, they have been very successful in winning awards, which have included:

  • Heed Fellowship
  • Michaels Award
  • Retina Society Fellowship Awards
  • ARVO Travel Award
  • Paul Kayser International Scholar Program of the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology

Fellows who have strong academic inclinations should be aware that Mass. Eye and Ear holds an NIH career development grant allowing the institution to extend a K12 Award to a fellowship-trained ophthalmologist. While competition for this award is typically fierce, Mass. Eye and Ear fellows who demonstrate strong research potential will be given careful consideration for this award. K12 awards give a graduating fellow junior faculty status with 80% protected time for research. Three of our former fellows have received the K12 Award, including Lucia Sobrin and Jason Comander on our current faculty.

Fellow Funding and Benefits


$52,000/year during the first year, $55,000/year during the second year


Malpractice premiums are fully paid by the Retina Service.

Health insurance

Family health insurance will be provided through the benefits program of Massachusetts Eye and Ear Associates.

Vacation/Sick leave

Each fellow is allowed three weeks (15 work days) per year. All vacation time must be planned in advance and be pre-approved by the Retina Service.


Attendance and participation at appropriate meetings is encouraged. Each fellow is required to attend one meeting per year although most attend more than one. The first year fellows usually attend ARVO, and the second year fellows usually attend AAO. Second year fellows also attend meetings for retina fellows sponsored by groups such as the ASRS. Fellows get one week (five work days) to attend meetings. Fellows are reimbursed for travel to meetings up to $1,500 per academic year.

Application Process

The Vitreoretinal Fellowship participates in the San Francisco Match Program, and getting a match number and having the number in our files should be a top priority. It is expected that the applicant will be Board eligible in Ophthalmology, have performed an ACGME-accredited ophthalmology residency or equivalent, and will be eligible to obtain a full license in the state of Massachusetts (see Selection Criteria on page 1).

Only completed applications will be considered for interview. It is your responsibility to make sure that your application is complete. Applications consist of an updated CV, and 3 letters of reference. At least one letter should be from a retina specialist in your residency program. Do not send more than three letters unless the fourth letter is from a research preceptor. Applicant interviews are generally conducted in October or November.

Application deadline is September 1, 2015. Applications will be reviewed upon completion.