Glaucoma Fellowship


The University of Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary has a longstanding history of providing exceptional care for patients with the most complex ophthalmic disorders.  The one-year clinical glaucoma fellowship offers an opportunity for direct participation in this care while under the guidance of accomplished, fellowship-trained glaucoma specialists.  By completion of the fellowship year, the fellow will be expected to have gained the clinical and surgical skill set necessary to provide this complex level of ophthalmic care independently.

Clinical Glaucoma Faculty

Ahmad Aref, MD, MBA —Glaucoma Fellowship Director, Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs

Thasarat S. Vajaranant, MD — Director of UIC Glaucoma Service, Vice Chair for Strategic Initiatives

Deepak Edward, MD — Professor of Ophthalmology, Vice Chair for Education; Staff Surgeon, Jesse Brown VA

Vandana Badlani, MD — Clinical Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology; Staff Surgeon, Jesse Brown VA

Jacob T. Wilensky, MD —  The Jacob T. Wilensky Professor of Ophthalmology

Clinical Training

The glaucoma fellows will participate in the clinical care of patients seen in the attending glaucoma clinics at UIC. Patients are seen in the attending clinics 5 days/week. In addition, the fellows will hold their own glaucoma clinics 1-2 half-days/week. Patients scheduled in the glaucoma fellow clinics are seen primarily by the fellow, who is expected to formulate an independent plan for ophthalmic care. An attending glaucoma specialist is physically present in the clinic at all times, and consultation is encouraged. The glaucoma fellow clinics offer an exceedingly unique opportunity to independently care for patients with consultation from the glaucoma faculty readily available, as needed.

The fellows will spend an additional 1-2 days/month directly caring for patients afflicted with glaucoma at the Jesse Brown VA Hospital. The majority of these patients have a complex glaucomatous process that requires surgical intervention.

Surgical Training

The fellows will actively participate in the surgical care of patients in the IEEI and Jesse Brown VA Hospital Systems. The fellows will spend an additional 1-2 days/month providing surgical care at the Jesse Brown VA Hospital.

By completion of the fellowship year, the fellows will have gained direct experience with conventional glaucoma filtering procedures as well as more novel microinvasive glaucoma surgeries (MIGS). Specific MIGS procedures that are actively performed by the UIC and Jesse Brown VA Glaucoma Services include: trabecular microbypass stent (iStent, Glaukos Co) implantation, ab-interno canaloplasty, gonioscopy assisted transluminal trabeculotomy (GATT), Kahook Dual Blade (KDB, New World Medical Inc.) goniotomy, and endolaser cyclophotocoagulation (ECP).

A combined approach with other ophthalmic subspecialists at the University of Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary is often undertaken. The fellowship program recognizes the importance of proficiency in phacoemulsification surgery and anterior segment disorders in relation to the glaucomatous disease process. The fellows will gain significant experience with phacoemulsification surgery using standard and premium intraocular lens (diffractive, enhanced depth of focus, and toric) options as well as complex anterior segment procedures including scleral fixation of intraocular lenses.

The fellows will have the opportunity to train in the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary’s Cless Ophthalmic Surgical Training and Simulation Center.

In total, the glaucoma fellows will be expected to have performed over 100-150 procedures as primary surgeon by completion of their training.


The glaucoma service at the University of Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary has eight examining lanes. An advanced anterior segment suite includes anterior segment OCT and ultrasound biomicroscopy (UBM) capabilities. A multimodal optic nerve imaging suite contains devices from various manufacturers. An on site laser suite and minor operating room facilitate performance of non-incisional as well as minor incisional procedures, respectively.

Educational Opportunities


Bi-Weekly Glaucoma Rounds: The glaucoma service holds a 60-minute educational conference on a bi-weekly basis. Approximately 30 minutes are dedicated to the discussion of complex cases that have presented to the attending, fellows, and/or resident glaucoma clinics over the prior week. The fellows actively participate by presenting their own cases and by offering opinions regarding the management of other cases. The remainder of the conference is dedicated to discussion of recent ophthalmic literature pertaining to glaucoma (journal club) and/or dedicated topical discussion

Weekly Department Grand Rounds: The Department holds weekly grand rounds each Wednesday evening, 5:00-6:00 pm. Each grand rounds session is dedicated to a particular ophthalmic subspecialty and is moderated by a leading expert in the field. Approximately five of these sessions are moderated by the UIC glaucoma faculty per academic year. The Grand Rounds presentations are prepared and delivered by the UIC ophthalmology residents and fellows.

Annual Glaucoma Symposium: The University of Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary hosts an annual Spring Glaucoma Symposium. Highlights of this day include clinical lectures, case presentations and two named lectures (The Schoenberg Glaucoma Lecture and The Wilensky Glaucoma Lecture). The glaucoma fellows are expected to participate in this symposium by presenting a timely clinical topic, interesting case presentation, or research findings.

Illinois Eye Review: The University of Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary also hosts an annual, week-long review course, The Illinois Eye Review, in February/March of each year. The course is extremely well-attended and offers over 80 hours of continuing medical education credit. The glaucoma fellows are invited to attend and present at the course to learn about important new developments and current concepts in ophthalmology as presented by world-renowned program faculty and leaders in ophthalmology.


The fellow is encouraged to participate in one clinical research project during their training period. Reimbursement for registration and travel expenses is available for research activities culminating in an oral or poster presentation at a major national ophthalmic meeting (e.g., AAO, AGS, ARVO, ASCRS). There are opportunities for the fellows to serve as sub-investigators on major industry-sponsored clinical trials. Past and present clinical trial industry sponsors include Aerie Pharmaceuticals, Allergan Inc., Bausch and Lomb Pharmaceuticals, and New World Medical, Inc. Fellows also have the opportunity to participate in large multi-center epidemiologic eye studies, including SOL Ojos.

With 22 dedicated clinical and/or basic science research faculty, The UIC Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences ranked as #5 in NIH funding among all U.S. Medical School Ophthalmology Departments in 2019. Investigations are laboratory- and patient-based, ranging from studies of single molecules and their role in the visual process to evaluations of rehabilitation therapy for people living with impaired vision. A wide range of basic and clinical science programs are represented within the Department’s robust research division.

Call Duties

The UIC ophthalmology resident staff takes primary responsibility for emergency call at the Infirmary. On a weekly rotating basis, the UIC fellow staff takes home call for the purposes of trauma coverage.


All fellows must have completed an accredited residency training program and obtain an unrestricted license to practice medicine in the State of Illinois. We recommend starting the process of obtaining this license as soon as the fellow has matched with the program. The offer for glaucoma fellowship training and employment with UIC is contingent on his/her obtaining this license.

List of former UIC Glaucoma Fellows


The University of Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary participates in the Ophthalmology Fellowship Match Process coordinated by the San Francisco Match. Applicants must register with the San Francisco Match online at and complete the CAS fellowship applications.