State of the Department

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May 21, 2024


With the current academic year coming to a close, I would like to take an opportunity to provide you with a brief update on the department and share a few highlights from this past year. 

We remain proud of our tradition of excellence and our commitment to patients and the ophthalmology profession. Iowa’s program continues to be well-regarded by our peers—once again ranking in the top ten in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of top-ranked hospitals for Ophthalmology. This ranking is one measure of the reputation our department has developed and a reflection of the overall consistency we have in our faculty and staff. 

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff, the department continues to provide exceptional clinical care. Patient volumes continue to grow and so does the number of faculty. We’ve added Dr. Kanwal Matharu to our cornea team, Dr. Marc Toeteberg to our glaucoma team, and Dr. Ryan Diel joins our comprehensive team. Dr. Karen GehrsDr. Tim Johnson, and Dr. Scott Larson are departing from the department. We wish them all the best in their retirement and further pursuits. 

Education, excellence, and innovation remain a cornerstone for Iowa’s eye program. We continue to be passionate about training and shaping future ophthalmologists into leaders within the specialty and in practice. In July of 2023 we welcomed our second class with six residents. As the 2026 and 2027 resident classes move through their training, we anticipate continued growth within our program. Increasing from five to six residents, will help us keep up with the demand for our graduates nationally and in our referring region. Most importantly, this change has allowed us to expand educational offerings, mitigate our risk of fatigue issues, and better meet the demand for our graduates. 

Due to the efforts of our faculty and staff, our program has an excellent reputation as evidenced by being the #2 ranked Ophthalmology Residency Program and #5 ranked Ophthalmology Department in the country by Ophthalmology Times, as well as moving up to the #6 spot in US News & World Report’s 2023 rankings. This is reflected by our graduates being in high demand for fellowship and practice positions. 

Related to our training programs, we started a fund to help continue Operation HawkEyeSight, a resident run endeavor at the free clinic in Iowa City that provides exams and surgeries at no cost. We are also funding a Diversity Visiting Student Scholarship, which was previously awarded to Adetayo Oladele-Ajose when she was completing a rotation at Iowa—and now Adetayo is now a second-year resident with us! We’ve completed work on our new simulation lab, which was funded by alum Dr. John Graether, and it is up and running. This new space will provide new opportunities for our department’s trainees. 

Clinical research activity continues to expand as we explore new treatments and potential cures for eye diseases. We have the nearly 30 trials taking place that involve new devices and treatments. Some of the clinical trials and studies underway involve Thyroid eye disease, cornea transplant preservation, Radiation Retinopathy in Uveal Melanoma, Bardet-Biedl Syndrome 10, X-linked retinoschisis, Orbital Adnexal Tumors, Retinoblastoma, Sepofarsen in Leber Congenital Amaurosis, and 3D Image Analysis Approach to Determine Severity and Cause of Optic Nerve Edema. Perhaps most exciting is our continued progress with the gene and stem cell therapy research. It certainly is exciting to lead and participate in so many studies to treat eye disease and potentially restore vision!

Our research efforts, in the department, at the Institute for Vision Research, and at the V.A. Center for Prevention & Treatment of Visual Loss, continue to garner attention and funding support. All of this continued success is a reflection of the interdisciplinary research and collaborative spirit among our faculty, researchers, and staff. 

While healthcare seems to be shifting in different ways, one area of uncertainty is the incredibly generous support we receive from our many alumni and donors. In FY23, we were fortunate to have received over $14 million, in philanthropic donations for innovative research, patient care, and scholarly pursuits. These new funds were contributed by over 1,275 donors, including alum Dr. Randy Brenton (‘87R) who pledged $500,000 to support resident, fellow and med student research at Iowa. Funds like this provide a tremendous boost in what we can, and do, accomplish together. If you are interested in investing in our success, please contact me or visit

Finally, I can proudly say that I’m grateful to lead and be among such an extraordinary team of dedicated people. On behalf of the department and our Iowa Eye family, thank you for your continued support of the University of Iowa and your partnership in eye care! 


Keith Carter, MD, FACS

  • Keith D. Carter, MD, FACS
  • Chair and Department Executive Officer
  • Lillian C. O'Brien and Dr. C.S. O'Brien Chair in Ophthalmology
Tuesday, May 21, 2024