Resident Alumni
Fellow Alumni


Joel Sugar, MD

Professor Emeritus of Ophthalmology, Cornea Service
Mailing Address: Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary 1855 W Taylor Street, M/C 648 Chicago IL 60612 Home Phone: (312) 996-8937
Photo of Joel Sugar MD

Biographical Info

Joel Sugar, MD

Sees patients at:
Specialty Care Building (SCB)
Cornea Service
1009 S. Wood St.
Chicago, IL 60612




“I was operated on by Dr. Sugar on Nov 30, 1999.  My cornea transplant was a success and I have had absolutely no problems in the last 12 years.”  comment from

Dr. Sugar’s clinical research focus is cornea and external diseases, particularly in studies of Fuchs’ dystrophy and keratoconus. His contributions as a member of National Eye Institute (NEI) study groups and as a principal and co- investigator on basic science research grants sponsored by the NEI have led to significant improvements in the surgical treatment of Fuchs’ dystrophy and keratoconus. Dr. Sugar served as the Medical Director of the Illinois Eye Bank for 25 years. He received the Life Achievement Honor Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology in 2008, and has been named one of America’s Best Doctors every year since the list was first published in 1989. In 2011 Dr. Sugar received the Cornea Society Castroviejo Medal for “outstanding contributions to Ophthalmology in the field of cornea and anterior segment of the eye.” He joined the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary in 1975 and served as Director of the Cornea Service from 1976 to 2002. Dr. Sugar is board certified in ophthalmology.



Joel Sugar online at          Best Doctors logo          Outstanding Care Physician logo         Castle Connolly Top Doctors

Patient Testimonials

Dr. Sugar patient testimonial from Eva




BA magna cum laude—University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
MD cum laude—University of Michigan  Medical School
Residency—Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
Clinical Fellowship in Cornea and External Disease—University of Florida, Gainesville

Selected Honors and Awards

Chicago Super Doctors, 2012 – 2013
Best Doctors in America, 1989 – present
Best Doctors in Chicago, 2000 – present
Gift of Sight Honoree, Midwest Eyebanks, 2012
Castroviejo Medal, Cornea Society, 2011
American Academy of Ophthalmology
• Life Achievement Honor Award, 2008
• Senior Achievement Award, 1994
• Achievement Award, 1984

See a representative list of Dr. Sugar’s published journal articles on PubMed.

Recent Publications

Writing Committee for the Cornea Donor Study Research Group, Mannis MJ, Holland EJ, Gal RL, Dontchev M, Kollman C, Raghinaru D, Dunn SP, Schultze RL, Verdier DD, Lass JH, Raber IM, Sugar J, Gorovoy MS, Sugar A, Stulting RD, Montoya MM, Penta JG, Benetz BA, Beck RW. The effect of donor age on penetrating keratoplasty for endothelial disease: graft survival after 10 years in the Cornea Donor Study. Ophthalmology. 2013 Dec;120(12):2419-27. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2013.08.026. PubMed PMID: 24246825; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3885822.

Zhang X, Igo RP Jr, Fondran J, Mootha VV, Oliva M, Hammersmith K, Sugar A, Lass JH, Iyengar SK; Fuchs’ Genetics Multi-Center Study Group. Association of smoking and other risk factors with Fuchs’ endothelial corneal dystrophy severity and corneal thickness. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013 Aug 27;54(8):5829-35. doi: 10.1167/iovs.13-11918. PubMed PMID: 23882692; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3755540.

Iqbal O, Fisher G, Vira S, Syed D, Sadeghi N, Freeman D, Campbell E, Sugar J, Feder R, Fareed J, Bouchard C. Increased expression of secreted frizzled-related protein-1 and microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 in keratoconus. Cornea. 2013 May;32(5):702-7. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e318282987a. PubMed PMID:

Nagarsheth M, Singh A, Schmotzer B, Babineau DC, Sugar J, Lee WB, Iyengar SK,  Lass JH; Fuchs’ Genetics Multi-Center Study Group. Relationship Between Fuchs Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy Severity and Glaucoma and/or Ocular Hypertension. Arch Ophthalmol. 2012 Nov;130(11):1384-8. doi: 10.1001/archophthalmol.2012.1969.  PubMed PMID: 22777534.

Cortina MS, Porter IW, Sugar J, de la Cruz J. Boston type I keratoprosthesis for visual rehabilitation in a patient with gelatinous drop-like corneal dystrophy. Cornea. 2012 Jul;31(7):844-5. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e31822fff1a. PubMed PMID: 22367041.

Sugar J, Macsai MS. What causes keratoconus? Cornea. 2012 Jun;31(6):716-9. doi:10.1097/ ICO.0b013e31823f8c72.  Review. PubMed PMID: 22406940.

Kopplin LJ, Przepyszny K, Schmotzer B, Rudo K, Babineau DC, Patel SV, Verdier  DD, Jurkunas U, Iyengar SK, Lass JH; Fuchs’ Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy Genetics Multi-Center Study Group. Relationship of Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy severity to central corneal thickness. Arch Ophthalmol. 2012 Apr;130(4):433-9. doi: 10.1001/archopthalmol.2011.1626. PubMed PMID: 22491913; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3859299.

Louttit MD, Kopplin LJ, Igo RP Jr, Fondran JR, Tagliaferri A, Bardenstein D,  Aldave AJ, Croasdale CR, Price MO, Rosenwasser GO, Lass JH, Iyengar SK; FECD Genetics Multi-Center Study Group. A multicenter study to map genes for Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy: baseline characteristics and heritability. Cornea. 2012 Jan;31(1):26-35. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e31821c9b8f. PubMed PMID: 22045388; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3719980.

Edward DP, Patil AJ, Sugar J, Parikh M. Copper deposition in a variant of multiple myeloma: pathologic changes in the cornea and the lens capsule. Cornea. 2011 Mar;30(3):360-3. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e3181ee67fd. PubMed PMID: 21045663.

Weisberg MP, Sugar J. Modalities to decrease stromal herpes simplex keratitis reactivation rates. Arch Ophthalmol. 2010 Nov;128(11):1497; author reply 1497-8. doi: 10.1001/archophthalmol.2010.259. PubMed PMID: 21060060.

Elderkin S, Tu E, Sugar J, Reddy S, Kadakia A, Ramaswamy R, Djalilian A. Outcome of descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty in patients with an anterior chamber intraocular lens. Cornea. 2010 Nov;29(11):1273-7. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e3181d00a5e. PubMed PMID: 20697283.

Lass JH, Sugar A, Benetz BA, Beck RW, Dontchev M, Gal RL, Kollman C, Gross R, Heck E, Holland EJ, Mannis MJ, Raber I, Stark W, Stulting RD; Cornea Donor Study  Investigator Group. Endothelial cell density to predict endothelial graft failure after penetrating keratoplasty. Arch Ophthalmol. 2010 Jan;128(1):63-9. doi: 10.1001/archophthalmol.2010.128.63. PubMed PMID: 20065219; PubMed Central PMCID:  PMC2950322.

Riaz KM, Sugar J, Tu EY, Edward DP, Wilensky JT, Namavari A, Djalilian AR. Early results of Descemet-stripping and automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK) in patients with glaucoma drainage devices. Cornea. 2009 Oct;28(9):959-62. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e31819c4e2c. PubMed PMID: 19724221.

Sugar J, Montoya M, Dontchev M, Tanner JP, Beck R, Gal R, Gallagher S, Gaster R, Heck E, Holland EJ, Kollman C, Malling J, Mannis MJ, Woody J; Group Cornea Donor Study Investigator Group. Donor risk factors for graft failure in the cornea donor study. Cornea. 2009 Oct;28(9):981-5. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e3181a0a3e6. PubMed PMID: 19724216; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3124710.

Shen X, Park JS, Qiu Y, Sugar J, Yue BY. Effects of Sp1 overexpression on cultured human corneal stromal cells. Genes Cells. 2009 Oct;14(10):1133-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2443.2009.01340.x. Epub 2009 Sep 16. PubMed PMID: 19758310; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2813039.

Kesen MR, Edward DP, Rao NA, Sugar J, Tessler HH, Goldstein DA. Atypical infectious nodular scleritis. Arch Ophthalmol. 2009 Aug;127(8):1079-80. doi: 10.1001/archophthalmol.2009.197. PubMed PMID: 19667360.

Meghpara B, Nakamura H, Vemuganti GK, Murthy SI, Sugar J, Yue BY, Edward DP. Histopathologic and immunohistochemical studies of keratoglobus. Arch Ophthalmol. 2009 Aug;127(8):1029-35. doi: 10.1001/archophthalmol.2009.184. PubMed PMID: 19667340; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2821018.

Lindquist TD, Miller TD, Elsen JL, Lignoski PJ; Policy and Position Research  Subcommittee of the Medical Advisory Board of the Eye Bank Association of America. Minimizing the risk of disease transmission during corneal tissue processing. Cornea. 2009 Jun;28(5):481-4. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e3181907368. Review. PubMed PMID: 19421054.

Lee JA, Djalilian AR, Riaz KM, Sugar J, Tu EY, Wadia H, Edward DP. Clinical and histopathologic features of failed descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty grafts. Cornea. 2009 Jun;28(5):530-5. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e31818d3b1c. PubMed PMID: 19421044.

Categories: Ophthalmology


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