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Volume 29, Number 2  |  April 2021

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Message from the Chair

April 2021


Dear Colleagues,

It has been 13 months since a state of emergency was declared in Ontario on March 17, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we are all getting very weary and fatigued. I’d like to thank each and every one of you for continuing to provide the good patient care and surgeries required during this difficult time; not only that but also providing continued teaching and education and clinical research; this is truly a stellar team.  Hopefully we’ll start seeing a turning tide very soon. 

I wanted to let the department know that the fellowship program reviews have been initiated and will continue through to the end of this academic year and most likely into the next. We have fellowship programs second to none at DOVS.  Over the years, previous fellowship directors David Wong and Asim Ali along with Jeff Hurwitz had worked tirelessly to improve these programs.  They instituted a chief fellow, socials and common information evenings as well as worked to standardize the programs and the educational experience of each fellow.  It's been recognized, though, that the fellowships at DOVS do not have a mechanism of regular review, enhancement and standardization.  Comparatively, our residency program is reviewed by the Royal College of physicians and surgeons of Canada on a regular basis and this oversight helps us continually improve and enhance our program. We have now set up a similar review process for our fellowship programs. Many thanks to the review team comprised of Nav Nijhawan, Asim Ali, Radha Kohly, chief fellow Parnian Arjmand and retina fellow Paul Grewal supported by Julie Thomson, our fellowship co-ordinator.   Many thanks also to the Fellowship Committee comprised of Director Nav Nijhawan, Asim Ali, Catherine Birt, Dan DeAngelis, John Lloyd, Meg Iizuka, Efrem Mandelcorn, Hugh McGowan, and Allan Slomovic, who will oversee the process.  Going forward the fellowship program reviews will take place every three or four years, with clearly defined fellowship competencies, surgical, clinical, educational and research experience, and standardization of fellowships across the same specialty.  These reviews will also work to enhance and standardize evaluations of both fellows and faculty as well as the surgical and clinical logs and finally the documentation so there will be a unified academic model for DOVS Fellowships. 

Stay healthy and strong.

Sherif El-Defrawy, MD, PhD, FRCS(C)
Nanji Family Chair in Ophthalmology & Vision Sciences
Chair & Professor, Department of Ophthalmology & Vision Sciences
University of Toronto
Featured in this issue:


Dr. Kenneth Eng appointed Ophthalmologist-in-Chief at Sunnybrook Hospital

Dr. Ken Eng has been appointed as Ophthalmologist in Chief for Sunnybrook Hospital for a five year term, effective  March 1, 2021.  Dr. Eng has been with the department since 2002 and performed several administrative roles including the Director of the  Department Appointments Committee from 2019,  the Director of the Undergraduate Program from 2007-2012 and the Practice Plan Committee Director from 2014.  We welcome and look forward to  working with Dr. Eng in his new role.  Dr. Eng succeeds Dr. Peter Kertes.  Our thanks to Dr. Peter Kertes for his outstanding leadership over the last decade.

Dr. David Mathew appointed Clinician Scientist at UHN-Toronto Western Hospital

Dr. David Mathew will join the Department of Ophthalmology & Vision Sciences on April 1, 2021 with an academic appointment as a Clinician Scientist at the rank of Assistant Professor and practice as a full time physician specializing in medical glaucoma at the UHN-Toronto Western Hospital.

Dr. Mathew completed a Clinical Adult Comprehensive Glaucoma Fellowship at the University of Toronto with Drs. Yvonne Buys and Graham Trope and is currently completing his PhD under the supervision of Dr. Jeremy Sivak.  Dr. Mathew is dedicated to pursuing an academic career in glaucoma research with a special focus on exploring the role of lipoxins in glaucoma patients.

Dr. Allan Slomovic appointed External Examiner at the University of West Indies

Dr. Allan Slomovic has been appointed as External Examiner for the University of West Indies, Ophthalmology, as of February 1, 2021. This appointment marks another step in the continuing collaborative work of DOVS affiliation with the University of West Indies. This work has been ongoing since 2005 when the University of West Indies developed their own Ophthalmology Residency Program for their Caribbean programs at Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago campuses.

Fellowship Event - Graduating Fellows: The Role of Social Media in Ophthalmology

On March 3, 2021, Fellowship Director Dr. Navdeep Nijhawan gave opening remarks at the second fellowship event of the academic year.  Three prolific ophthalmologists and social media influencers shared their insights on the role of social media and ophthalmology with tips and advice for future graduates.
Chief Fellow Dr. Parnian Arjmand introduced guest speaker Dr. Jay Sridhar (Retina specialist, Associate program director and director of the surgical retina service at Bascom Palmer), who gave a very innovative presentation on Social media and ophthalmology.
Dr. Aleksandra Rachitskaya (Retina specialist, Cleveland clinic, Early Career Section co-chair with the ASRS), gave an inspiring presentation addressing the issue of how to stay involved with AAO/ ASRS, promote research, and reach out to referring doctors and other professionals.  
Dr. Ike Ahmed (Glaucoma surgeon, Director of GAASS fellowship, University of Toronto), gave an in-depth presentation on using social media for surgical innovation, teaching trainees and colleagues, and international outreach.
An engaging Q & A period took place following the presentations.
This well-received virtual event was attended by more than 25 members of the department.

Report on Global Health

by: Dr. Helen Dimaras, Director of Global Health
The department continues to make global health impact in light of the pandemic that is keeping most of us grounded. On March 12, 2021, a special DOVS Grand Rounds focused on Academic Partnerships in Global Ophthalmology featured our international collaborators Dr. Lizette Mowatt, Jamaica; Dr. Sadik Sherief, Ethiopia; Dr. Vera Essuman, Ghana; and Dr. Juliet Otiti, Uganda. Their talks highlighted progress in cooperative research and capacity building projects supported by the University of Toronto (UofT) DOVS, and suggested a way forward for continued success.

New opportunities for faculty and trainees to get involved in departmental global health activities include:
Resident-to-Resident Academic Partnership

Toronto Addis Ababa Academic Collaboration (TAAAC) brings together faculty and learners at the UofT and Addis Ababa University (AAU) to support AAU in strengthening its graduate medical and academic programs.

UofT DOVS residents in any year of study are invited to participate in development of educational content to support the TAAAC pediatric ophthalmology partnership. UofT residents will be virtually partnered with AAU residents to co-create educational video modules focused on ophthalmic equipment handling and care.

Global Ophthalmology Fellowship

In late 2020, we conducted a cross-Canada survey to better understand trainee (i.e. ophthalmology residents and fellows) interest in global health and ophthalmology. The majority (60%) of survey respondents indicated they would be interested in enrolling in a fellowship in global ophthalmology if it were offered at UofT. Most (80%) preferred a hybrid training model in which global health training would be combined with ophthalmology specialty training.

Interested DOVS faculty are invited to join a fellowship committee to further examine survey results and develop a global ophthalmology curriculum at UofT.

Get in touch! If you’re interested in any of the above opportunities or have something else to add to the Department’s global health focus, please reach out to

Unconscious Gender Bias and its Impact on Impostor Syndrome in Women

by: Dr. Tanya Trinh
I wrote this piece in October 2020 for the Toronto Eye Review, encouraged by the relationships that I had developed with other female colleagues and male allies here at the University of Toronto, and channelled my thoughts and experiences into this talk about Unconscious Gender Bias and its impact on Imposter Syndrome in Women.

It is an analysis of the unconscious way that we, both men and women, exhibit subtle implicit bias on a daily basis and its impact on Impostor Phenomenon in women.  We take a deep dive into the medical literature looking at real life and recent examples in Medicine and Ophthalmology.

The aim of the talk was to welcome all individuals to engage in the conversation and begin to instigate real change. It includes practical strategies and methods to empower men and women to make small but tangible changes, en masse, in the hope of achieving meaningful strides to reaching equity.

Link to the video:

Thank you from the McKay Family

As you may know, in February Caitlin and I lost our newborn daughter Scottie very abruptly and unexpectedly.  The outpouring of support from our family, friends and notably our family here at the DOVS at UofT has been absolutely tremendous.  We cannot thank everyone enough for the kind words, support, flowers, food, and most notably the very kind and generous donations from many of you.  Through our go-fund-me page we raised over $50000 dollars for the SIckKids foundation in Scottie's name.  Not only was this an amazing gift for the foundation, it also ensures her name will be immortalized on the wall of donors at SickKids.

We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for your continued support,

With love,
Bryon, Caitlin, and Huxley

Research Profile

DOVS Spotlight Researcher - Dr. Philippe Monnier

Dr. Monnier is a Senior Scientist at Krembil Research Institute
I have concentrated my efforts on developing large scale research projects by establishing local and international collaborations, obtaining grant support, and publishing high impact research. In total I have been awarded over 9 million dollars in research grants for these projects, most of them as principle investigator. Some of these grants are in collaboration with other faculty members at the University of Toronto, thus facilitating collaborative projects that extend beyond the scope of my own lab. This funding has allowed us to foster the development of potential novel treatments for spinal cord/optic nerve injury and retinal degeneration. Additional successful  (2 CFIs) have allowed for the purchase of cutting edge imaging equipment (multi-photon microscope, optical coherence tomography imaging system, light sheet microscope) that are now also at the disposal of other scientists in my institute. In September 2018, I was awarded the first “Restore Vision 20/20” award from the Foundation for Fighting Blindness. This new award (up to 1.6 million dollars) will be dedicated to the pre-clinical development of our candidate drug “4Ig’ in Retinitis Pigmentosa.
Several of the research projects initiated in my lab have matured and become internationally recognized. Evidence of this recognition can be seen both by the number of international invited lectures I have given and by the number of publications I have. Indeed, the RGM/Neogenin field, which we helped to pioneer, has now grown to encompass multiple labs located on every continent. In total I have published 51 papers since 2003. Most of the publications from my laboratory have an impact ranging from IF 8 to IF 15, which demonstrates the quality of the work done by my team. 
The research from my lab has furthermore had a tremendous translational impact in the medical field. In particular, 4 clinical trials (phase II) use patents that I filed 18 years ago. My lab has previously demonstrated functional improvement following treatment with RGMa antibodies in several animal disease models. Now the first cohort of human patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis are being treated with these antibodies, with the hope being that this treatment will promote functional recovery in humans. Moreover, we have patented and licensed some of our more recent discoveries, which I am convinced will help to repair both the injured eye and brain. The 4Ig peptide, which we developed 5 years ago, is a very potent therapeutic that has shown efficacy in animal models of retinitis pigmentosa, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis and stroke.

Honours, Awards & Grants

Dr. Yvonne Buys awarded Colin Woolf Award for Long Term Contributions to CPD

Dr. Yvonne Buys has been awarded the 2019-2020 Colin Woolf Award for Long Term Contributions to Continuing Professional Development by the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.  The award, named after Dr. Colin Woolf, an early adopter of interactive CME, recognizes excellence in teaching, subject mastery, and the ability to engage learners.  Congratulations to Dr. Buys for her outstanding leadership and her sustained commitment to and excellence in education, including teaching, program coordination, administration, and/or scholarly activities in CPD.

For more information on the Colin R. Woolf Awards, please visit the following page:

Dr. Neeru Gupta appointed President of the ICO

Neeru Gupta, MD, PhD, MBA, has been elected President of the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) by the ICO Board of Trustees. Prof. Gupta officially began in this role on January 1, 2021, becoming the first female President of the organization since its establishment almost a century ago. Public Announcement

The ICO is composed of over 180 regional, national and subspecialty professional ophthalmology associations across all continents. The ICO holds official relations status with the World Health Organization and represents the ophthalmologists of the world to the WHO. Upcoming ICO education, membership and advocacy efforts will be guided by the new ICO Strategic Plan 2021-2024.

2021-2024 ICO Strategic Plan
2020 ICO Annual Report

The MD Program Teaching Award for Excellence winners announced

From Left to Right: Drs. Asim Ali, Alfred Basilious, Aaron Chan, Hall Chew, Ying Lu, Angela Zhang
We are pleased to announce that Drs. Asim Ali, Alfred Basilious, Aaron Chan, Hall Chew, Ying Lu, Angela Zhang are the recipients of the MD Program Teaching Award for Excellence 2019-2020 from the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.

The MD Program Teaching Award for Excellence was introduced in 2017-2018 by the University of Toronto medical students. The award recognizes faculty, residents, graduate student teachers and clinicians in the MD Program that have attained Teaching Evaluation Scores in the top 10% in one or more of the teaching activities to which they have contributed.

Drs. Clara Chan and Neeru Gupta on the Top 100 Women Ophthalmologist Power List

Congratulations to both Drs. Clara Chan and Neeru Gupta, who are ranked the Top 100 Women Ophthalmologist Power List (2021).  The Power List, containing the most influential female figures in ophthalmology, had close to 1,200 nominations this year and the Top 100 was determined by an International panel of judges.

Link to full story:

Dr. Stephan Ong Tone's article published in the inaugural issue of Ophthalmology Science

Congratulations to Dr. Stephan Ong Tone on the publication of his cover and article in the inaugural issue of Ophthalmology Science.

Link to Ophthalmology Science:
Image taken from Dr. Ong Tone's manuscript - Corneal endothelial cells from a Fuchs patient that was stained to visualize the actin cytoskeleton

Invited Lectures and Visiting Professorships

Buys, YM:
  • Reactions to complaints – You are not alone. Canadian Ophthalmological Society Wellness Webinar Series. So you got a complaint – Now what ?!  Mar 3, 2021, Ottawa, Ontario. (Presentation)
  • Quarantine myopia. The Kelly Cutrara Show, Global News Radio 640, Jan 18, 2021, Toronto, Ontario. (Interview)
  • World Glaucoma Month. Kelly and Company, AMI Radio, Jan 25, 2021, Toronto, Ontario. (Interview)

Choudhry, N:
  • Utility of Peripheral Wide-Field OCT in Clinical Practice. India Ophthalmological Society International Ophthalmic Conclave. Feb 19-21, 2021.
  • Feasibility and Clinical Utility of Peripheral OCT Imaging using a Novel Integrated SLO Ultra-Widefield Imaging Full-Field Swept-Source OCT device. Macula Society 2021 Annual Meeting. Feb 6-7, 2021


Congratulations to Dr. Stephan Ong Tone and his wife Celina Wu on welcoming their newborn daughter, Zoe, on March 6th, 2021 at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.  Nathan is proud to become a big brother!

Online Rounds Schedule and Events

Save the date!

Department of Ophthalmology & Vision Sciences

Annual Research Day 2021

We are pleased to announce the dates for the 2021 DOVS Sixty-Fourth Annual Research Day and Fortieth Clement McCulloch Lecture Virtual Rounds.

The sessions will be held between 7:00 – 9:00 pm on the following Tuesdays: April 27th, May 4th, and May 11th.  Each Round will consist of a Guest Speaker and a series of Trainee talks.  We will send out the agenda once the speakers have been confirmed. 

Let us know if you have any questions.

Matt Schlenker
Mano Chandrakumar
Valerie Wallace
Rajeev Muni
Sherif El-Defrawy

To register/access the conference website, Click here

The 31st Annual Jack Crawford Day Virtual Conference:
Kids Beyond The Eyes

Date: Friday April 16, 2021
Designed for comprehensive ophthalmologists, paediatric ophthalmologists, and anyone who sees children (or likes children!), the theme in 2021 is "Kids Beyond The Eyes" covering many relevant topics including:
  • Disorders of the Zonule
  • Role of VEP in Ophthalmology
  • ROP in Canada: How are we doing?
  • Case Based Emergencies
  • Literature of 2020: Studies of the Year
  • Optic Nerve Malformations and Associated Systemic Disorders
  • Don’t be Afraid of Wiggly Eyes
  • Finessing the Paediatric Eye Exam: Vision Beyond 20/20
Our excellent international guest speaker this year:
Dr. Elias Traboulsi
Stanley Stone Endowed Chair of Pediatric Ophthalmology
Director, The Center for Genetic Eye Diseases,
Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute
Looking forward to seeing you virtually.
For any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us by email  
Elise Héon, MD, FRCSC
Conference Co-Chair

Nasrin Najm-Tehrani, MBBCh, FRCSEd (Ophth),   FRCSC
Conference Co-Chair
Date: April 15, 2021
Cornea Rounds
Title: Regenerative Medicine: Corneal Endothelial Substitutes
Speakers: Drs. Gisella Santaella and Carlos Rodriguez 

Date: April 16, 2021
VPP Rounds
Title: Current Approaches to the Diagnosis and Management of Patients with Retinal Dystrophies
Speaker: Dr. Elias Traboulsi

Date: April 16, 2021
31st Annual Jack Crawford Day
International Speaker: Dr. Elias Traboulsi

Date: April 23, 2021
Grand Rounds
Topic: Retina
Speaker: Dr. Peter Kertes

Date: April 27, 2021
DOVS Annual Research Day (1st session)

Date: April 30, 2021
Grand Rounds
Topic: Low Vision
Speaker: Drs. Monica Nido Daibert and Sam Markowitz

Date: May 4, 2021
DOVS Annual Research Day (2nd session)

Date: May 7, 2021
Grand Rounds
Topic: Quality Improvement
Speakers: Drs. Wendy Hatch and Stephanie Low

Date: May 11, 2021
DOVS Annual Research Day (3rd session)

Date: May 14, 2021
VPP Rounds
Topic: Anterior Segment / Cornea
Speaker: Dr. Nima Noordeh

Date: May 21, 2021
Grand Rounds
Topic: Cataract and Lens
Speaker: Dr. Marisa Sit

Date: May 28, 2021
Faculty Development Rounds
Topic: Black Health and Anti-Racisim
Speaker: Dr. Onye Nnorom

* Schedule subject to change

For latest details and links, please visit:

Full Upcoming Calendar and Events

Recent Publications

Recent publications by DOVS Faculty, Staff, Residents and Fellows

February 2021
March 2021
Al-Falah M, Khateb S, Eng KT. Full thickness posterior globe perforation managed with laser photocoagulation. Can J Ophthalmol. 2021 Mar 13:S0008-4182(21)00046-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjo.2021.02.009. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33727103
Barton JJS, Ranalli PJ. Vision therapy: Occlusion, prisms, filters, and vestibular exercises for mild traumatic brain injury. Surv Ophthalmol. 2021 Mar-Apr;66(2):346-353. doi: 10.1016/j.survophthal.2020.08.001. Epub 2020 Aug 19. PMID: 32827496 Review.

Böhm MS, Wylegala A, Leon P, Ong Tone S, Ciolino JB, Jurkunas UV. One-Year Clinical Outcomes of Preloaded Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty Versus Non-Preloaded Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty. Cornea. 2021 Mar 1;40(3):311-319. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0000000000002430. PMID: 32740011.
Georgiou M, Fujinami K, Vincent A, Nasser F, Khateb S, Vargas ME, Thiadens AAHJ, de Carvalho ER, Nguyen XT, De Guimarães TAC, Robson AG, Mahroo OA, Pontikos N, Arno G, Fujinami-Yokokawa Y, Leo SM, Liu X, Tsunoda K, Hayashi T, Jimenez-Rolando B, Martin-Merida MI, Avila-Fernandez A, Carreño E, Garcia-Sandoval B, Carmen A, Sharon D, Kohl S, Huckfeldt RM, Boon CJF, Banin E, Pennesi ME, Wissinger B, Webster AR, Héon E, Khan AO, Zrenner E, Michaelides M.  KCNV2-associated Retinopathy: Detailed Retinal Phenotype and Structural Endpoints - KCNV2 Study Group Report 2. Am J Ophthalmol. 2021 Mar 15:S0002-9394(21)00117-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2021.03.004. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33737031
Lai FHP, Wong EWN, Lam WC, Lee TC, Wong SC, Nagiel A, Lam RF.  Endoscopic vitreoretinal surgery: Review of current applications and future trends. Surv Ophthalmol. 2021 Mar-Apr;66(2):198-212. doi: 10.1016/j.survophthal.2020.11.004. Epub 2020 Dec 3. PMID: 33278403 Review.
Minaker SA, Mason RH, Lahaie Luna G, Bapat P, Muni RH. Changes in aqueous and vitreous inflammatory cytokine levels in neovascular age-related macular degeneration: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Ophthalmol. 2021 Mar;99(2):134-155. doi: 10.1111/aos.14537. Epub 2020 Jun 29. PMID: 32602185 Review.

Mishra AV, Pollmann AS, Choudhry N, Gupta RR. Spontaneous Resolution of A Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer Cyst. Retina. 2021 Mar 1;41(3):e32-e34. doi: 10.1097/IAE.0000000000003079.PMID: 33315815 
Trinh T, Mimouni M, Santaella G, Cohen E, Chan CC. Surgical Management of the Ocular Surface in Neurotrophic Keratopathy: Amniotic Membrane, Conjunctival Grafts, Lid Surgery, and Neurotization.
Eye Contact Lens. 2021 Mar 1;47(3):149-153. doi: 10.1097/ICL.0000000000000753. PMID: 33196502
Zaslavsky K, Margolin E. Reply. Ophthalmology. 2021 Mar;128(3):e16-e17. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2020.10.016. Epub 2020 Nov 27. PMID: 33256994
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