About the Department of Ophthalmology | NYU Langone Health

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About the Department of Ophthalmology

Throughout our long history, we have been at the forefront of innovative research, eye care, and education.

NYU Langone Health’s Department of Ophthalmology has been contributing to research, education, and patient care for more than 178 years.

In 2016, NYU Langone committed to expanding the reach of the department across all domains. In 2018, the ophthalmology faculty practice moved into a new clinical space, outfitted with top-of-the-line equipment and innovative technology. By 2019, we treated more than 75,000 patients there. In addition, our full-time faculty grew from 3 to 42 members, new outpatient facilities were created for clinical patient care and clinical research, and 4 new, state-of-the-art operating rooms were built. Our new space allows us to provide care in all ophthalmic subspecialties and perform advanced clinical research. Located on two floors, we have the benefit of two imaging centers and two minor procedure operating suites.

The Department of Ophthalmology at NYU Langone has a long tradition of success in training new generations of ophthalmologists. Our residency program has undergone a transformation with new local site directors, a new program director and associate program director, and a passionate commitment to excellence. The residency program has the unique resources of two city hospitals, a VA medical center and a university hospital, in addition to our NYU Langone Eye Center. Residents train in multiple environments with varying degrees of autonomy, always with appropriate faculty supervision. A robust visiting professor series and continuing medical education courses add to our ophthalmology residents’ exceptional educational experience.

The department conducts world-class research with expertise in imaging, biomedical engineering, glaucoma, corneal disease, vision neuroscience, and vision restoration. Expertise in vision-related research resides throughout NYU and NYU Langone, and we prioritize collaborations with scientists at all sites. In particular, we collaborate closely with NYU’s outstanding vision neuroscientists on the Washington Square campus and NYU Langone’s Neuroscience Institute, and with biomedical engineers at NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

We look forward to hearing from you. If you have questions, please email us at ophthalmologyadmineducation@nyulangone.org.

Our History

The Department of Ophthalmology at NYU Langone is one of the oldest in the United States

Today’s department was born of the consolidation of two separate departments at two separate medical schools: the University Medical College, established in 1841 as part of the University of New York, and Bellevue Hospital Medical College, established in 1861.

Early departments of ophthalmology were small, consisting of a single professor–chair who covered all areas of the discipline with equal expertise. Daniel B. St. John Roosa, MD, one of the founders of Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital, was the first professor of ophthalmology at the University of New York. In 1882, he left this post to launch the New York Post-Graduate Medical School and Hospital and was later succeeded by Herman Knapp, MD.

Dr. Knapp, widely considered by many to be the founder of modern American ophthalmology, first published the journal Archives of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology in 1869. He served as professor of ophthalmology at the University of New York from 1882 to 1888 and held a similar position at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons from 1888 to 1902.

At the opening of Bellevue Hospital Medical College, Henry D. Noyes, MD, led the Department of Ophthalmology and also served as chair of the Department of Otology from 1873 to 1894. Dr. Noyes authored Diseases of the Eye, A Treatise, one of the earliest textbooks on the topic, and helped found the American Ophthalmological Society in 1864, over which he presided from 1878 to 1884. He also led the consolidation of the ophthalmology departments at the University of New York and Bellevue Hospital Medical College.

Past and Present Department Leadership

Since its historic merger, the department has been chaired by many of the great leaders in ophthalmology:

John E. Weeks, MD, 1905–19
John E. Wheeler, MD, 1919–28
Webb W. Weeks, MD, 1935–40
Daniel B. Kirby, MD, 1941–49
Alson E. Braley, MD, 1949–50
A. Gerard DeVoe, MD, 1950–59
Goodwin M. Breinin, MD, 1959–2000
David Guyer, MD, 2000–02
Jack Dodick, MD, 2002–15
Joel S. Schuman, MD, 2016–20
Kathryn A. Colby, MD, PhD, 2020–present

Notable Faculty

Subspecialties in ophthalmology emerged in the middle of the 20th century. Under the guidance of Dr. Kirby, Dr. Braley, and Dr. DeVoe, the department stood at the forefront of clinical ophthalmology and included many of the nation’s finest ophthalmologists, including ocular motility expert Dr. Harold Brown, keratoplasty expert Dr. Ramon Castroviejo, neuro-ophthalmologist Dr. Alfred Kestenbaum, corneal disease expert Dr. Richard Townley Paton, and retinal disease expert Dr. George N. Wise.

The integration of the basic medical sciences with clinical medicine is one of the hallmark features of medicine in the second half of the 20th century. Nowhere was this better realized than in our department. Assuming the role of chair in 1959, Dr. Breinin assembled a preeminent group of scientists and clinical researchers who continued to enhance the department's reputation. This legacy is continued today by our current chair, Dr. Colby.

Contact Us

For more information, contact Douglas R. Lazzaro, MD, at douglas.lazzaro@nyulangone.org.