Message from the Chair

Dear Friends:

Welcome to the WVU Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and to the WVU Eye Institute. While we continue to address the challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic our department continues its flourish in its vibrant sense of community and in its continual growth and expansion. Our clinical activities, research funding, outreach programs and faculty continue to grow, as does our footprint on our WVU medical campus.

In the past months, we have established new rural clinics in several WV communities, providing critical eye care to citizens close to their homes. The number of faculty continues to grow with our recruitment of new positions in pediatric ophthalmology, neuro-ophthalmology, cornea, glaucoma and retina, adding further depth to our already strong specialty areas in ophthalmology. NIH funding to support our vision research faculty has grown exponentially in the areas of retinal biochemistry, metabolism and genetics. Our faculty has been very active in clinical trials involving AMD, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataract surgery and corneal cross-linking for keratoconus. Our six research labs are all supported by NIH RO1 grants. Our outreach program, CVRP, continues to serve an increasing number of children with low vision in our state, and our AVOP program is expanding to reach adults with no other access to needed eye care. Our residency program has increased its compliment to four new residents each year, and our department has added a new fellowship training program in cornea. Along with this growth, our department is gaining approximately 15,000 sq. ft. of clinical space on the third floor to accommodate our expanding needs.

Along with our department’s growth, construction of the new WVU Children’s Hospital continues, with completion expected for the summer of 2021. This will be a tremendous addition to the care of children throughout the state and region and offers tremendous growth opportunities for our section of pediatric ophthalmology.

These activities came at a time when, like the rest of the nation, we were responding in a dramatic fashion to the SARS-covid-2 pandemic. I am proud to note our department never closed to essential care but all routine and elective care were suspended and our surgical volumes dramatically reduced. A large portion of our staff was required to work from home and our educational programs shifted from in-person to virtual meetings. Fortunately, our state did not face the dramatic impact of COVID as did some other parts of the country. While our hospital response was all-consuming and an unfortunate number of patients were admitted with severe coronavirus infections, we never were overwhelmed. By May, our department began a gradual reopening of our clinical operations, with serious attention to patient and staff safety. Our Eye Institute family, exemplifying its longstanding culture of collegiality and collaboration, quickly adapted to our new pandemic climate. By the end of June, we were back to seeing our regular patient volumes and in July we saw a record number of people in our clinics and ORs. We continue to strive to meet the needs of all patients who come for care, often from great distances and with severe concerns.

Despite recent challenges, the future of our department and the WVU Eye Institute could not be brighter. With the aid of talented residents, fellows, faculty, researchers and staff we are able to accomplish our goals in the areas of patient care, teaching, and research to serve our patients and teach future ophthalmologists in innovative ways. You are welcome to explore our website, learn more about us and join us as we endeavor to provide transformative vision care to the people we serve.

Thomas Mauger, M.D.

Professor and Chairman