Skip Navigation


Medical and Surgical Retina Advanced Specialty Training

Please note: The 2022-2024 program is in progress. All applications are submitted centrally to the SF Match site. Please refer to the SFMatch website to register for the match and read about the process for applying to Ophthalmology Fellowship training. Once registered you can view our program listing on the SFMatch directory Web site for all required documents.

Pre-requisites for international medical graduates:

  1. Completion of an Ophthalmology Residency
  2. Successful completion of the ECFMG examinations and award of the certificate
  3. USMLE step 3
  4. Must be eligible for J-1 ECFMG visa sponsorship for entire two-year period of fellowship


This outline is intended to provide an overview of the Retina Advanced Specialty Training (“Fellowship”) Program at the Wilmer Eye Institute (Department of Ophthalmology) of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The Wilmer Retina Division is one of the largest in the country, with 18 full-time faculty providing retina care within an eye department of 60 full-time faculty ophthalmologists who in turn are part of a department faculty of approximately 130, supported by a staff of approximately 600.

Purpose of Training Program

The purpose of the training program is to provide the best clinical training in the world regarding the management of retinal diseases. As such, the training program physicians are involved in all aspects of the clinical care of patients with retinal diseases. Our goal is to train competent, confident, sophisticated retina specialists, with both medical and surgical expertise.

At the end of the two years, we expect that each graduate will achieve the following goals:

  1. master medical retina at a level where he or she could direct any fluorescein conference in the country and provide the most up-to-date care of medical retinal diseases
  2. become proficient in retina surgery so that the training program physician can fully evaluate, diagnose, and manage surgical challenges ranging from the most straight-forward to the most complex.

Although there is no “reserved” time for research, almost all previous training program physicians have conducted research projects resulting in publications and presentations. The Wilmer Retina Advanced Specialty Training ("Fellowship") Program is AUPO FCC compliant.

Dates of Training Program

The training program begins July 1, with a duration of two (2) years. 

Structure of Training Program

In the first year, two out of every three rotations (which switch each month) involve intensive clinical, outpatient care with Drs. Neil Bressler, Susan Bressler and Sharon Solomon. One out of three rotations (every third month) involves intensive clinical, outpatient care 3 days a week with surgery 2 days a week (surgical rotations). In the second year, each rotation, each month, involves intensive clinical, outpatient care 3 days a week with surgery 2 days a week (surgical rotations). The surgical rotations are with Drs. J. Fernando Arevalo, Cindy Cai, Peter Gehlbach, Amir Kashani, Alvin Liu, Mira Sachdeva, Mandeep Singh, Akrit Sodhi and Adam Wenick. Surgical rotations include community-based retina practices by our faculty as well as consulting on retina cases from Wilmer’s resident service.

A wealth of teaching and primary participation in patient care is provided from this schedule, from the most straightforward management of diabetic macular edema, choroidal neovascularization in age-related macular degeneration, or primary rhegmatogenous retinal detachment to unusual manifestations of serpiginous choroidopathy or complex retinal detachments with proliferative vitreoretinopathy. In addition, training program physicians participate in the management of intraocular tumors, infants with retinopathy of prematurity, and complex pediatric retinal detachments. Over 15,000 visits, of which approximately 25% are new consultations from comprehensive ophthalmologists as well as other retinal specialists from around the country and world are managed by the Retina Division at the Johns Hopkins Hospital office with additional visits at five satellite community-based offices. The Retina faculty perform over 1000 retina operations each year with the training program physicians, as well as thousands of intravitreal injections, laser photocoagulation, and other procedures.

At the end of two years, the training program physician should be up-to-date on the most common to the most complex retinal cases and should be at a level of surgical expertise to handle all of them. In addition, and just as important, the training program physician should have seen enough long-term follow-up of treated and untreated cases to understand what outcomes to anticipate when different approaches are undertaken.

Distinctive Features of the Wilmer Retina Division

Our retina physicians help run major retina clinical trials that define standard care now and in the future. In addition, the physicians write many of the textbook chapters and peer-reviewed publications that provide the foundation of retina care.

The training program is so important to the Wilmer Retina Division physicians that the Division has obtained funds to endow at least one of the 6 training programs as a named position (the Hutcheson Fellow). This is the only named endowed retina fellowship that we know of in the country. In addition, the Retina Division was awarded a prestigious Horizon Fellowship Grant from Allergan to support the retina training program.

One of the most common questions from a retinal training program applicant is whether the training program physician does enough surgery. The answer is a resounding yes. The large faculty practice and large residency program provide surgical retina cases for the training program physician. In addition, the retina fellows cover the trauma and retina call for the Chief Resident during the second and fourth weekend every month. This latter experience provides the training program physician with additional surgical experience to complement the thousands of surgeries performed in the faculty practice. During the trauma and residency program cases, the trainee has an opportunity to work as the primary surgeon with oversight by the Retina Division faculty who take call.

Typically, training program physicians are given at least one case per day to complete “skin to skin” at the start of the training program, and can do all of the surgery by the end of the first year.

Interaction with The Wilmer Residency

A common question by training program applicants is how the residency at Wilmer affects the training program. The answer is the residency greatly enhances the training program. The residents usually represent highly ranked individuals from medical school and are great to work with, work hard at learning from the retinal training program physicians and faculty, and do not detract from the training program experience. Surgical retinal cases that are generated from the residency service are generally shared by the Chief Resident and the Retina Division fellows. Thus, the strong residency program is an added bonus for the retinal training program.

Clinical Trials

Many of the faculty are study chairs or principal investigators for major trials in retinal disease. As such, the training program physician gets to experience the various facets involved in evaluating whether a new technique or treatment approach will become the standard of care in the near future. The training program physician should leave the program understanding how to interpret the results of these trials and whether or not to apply them to everyday practice, whether it involves for example, treatment of choroidal neovascularization, macular edema, vitreomacular interface abnormalities, proliferative vitreoretinopathy, choroidal melanomas, fluorescein angiography, or optical coherence tomography. The faculty get access to the latest medications, devices, and instruments to keep the Division on the cutting edge of retina care.

Research Opportunities

Although research is not required during the training program, almost every training program physician gets involved in clinical or basic research because the faculty are very involved with this. Clinical research opportunities include both human subjects research and laboratory research. Numerous training program physicians have been recognized with national awards for their research endeavors.


Almost all of the training program physicians end up with experience in learning how to publish original research. In addition, the faculty receive numerous book chapter review requests or monographs from around the country and training program physician may participate in writing these review if they desire. We hope they do!  Finally, all training program physicians present cases at a weekly Fluorescein Conference attended by all retinal faculty (as well as some community-based retinal ophthalmologists) and a semimonthly Retina Surgery Conference; the best of these cases are often published.


The training program physician rotates being on-call one week every four weeks. In addition, the on-call training program physician rotates on the Chief Resident’s trauma and resident retina call every second and fourth weekend of the month. 


Each year, the training program physicians has up to three weeks (15 working days) of vacation (but can take no more than 5 weekdays in a row). The vacation must be taken in 5 day packets. This vacation time includes any time away from Wilmer, including job interviews, taking board examinations,or attending (but not presenting) at a national meeting. In addition, the training program physician may take additional time off if presenting at a national meeting (up to 5 additional days). Vacations must be arranged and approved at least 3 months in advance with the faculty to ensure adequate coverage for clinical services.

Salary and Fringe Benefits

The first year training program salary for July 2014 was $49,128.00 plus fringe benefits. This may change with each year, but has always been competitive with the rest of the country. In addition, the training program physician receives individual health and malpractice insurance. If a training program physician receives a grant (for example, a Heed Fellowship), these funds are supplemental to the physician’s salary and fringe benefits. The training program physician is given a stipend of $1,000 each year to be spent on business related expenses such as equipment, meeting expenses, books, subscriptions, or licensing fees incurred during the training program. In addition, the training program physician is given office space with access to computer facilities, e-mail, and lab coats (with free laundry) for the duration of the training program.


As part of an appointment to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the training program physicians participate in the education of Johns Hopkins medical students for approximately one hour per month. The students are generally excellent, enthusiastic, and an asset to the training program. In addition, the training program physician may participate in some of the Continuing Medical Education Courses produced by the Wilmer Retina Division faculty each year. Most of these CME courses are held on a Friday. An occasional CME session is scheduled on a Saturday. Dates are generally known a year or more in advance.

The Wilmer Family

The Retina Division and the entire Wilmer Eye Institute take pride in providing a congenial and supportive environment in which to work. Training program physicians are considered a key part of the “Wilmer Family” and enjoy numerous social gatherings and events at faculty members’ homes. The faculty aim to make the training experience both educational and fun!


We would like the training program to be the best experience it can be; after all, we are going to be your colleagues throughout our professional careers. As such, we constantly strive to improve each aspect of the program. Therefore, the training program of two years ago is similar, but slightly different, from the way it is now, and is likely to be different in the future. For example, there is more surgical experience in the first year of the program and overall than was available a few years ago.

The training program physicians from the 1970's took leadership positions in academic and private practices including for example: Howard Schatz, San Francisco; Stuart Fine, Philadelphia; David Orth, Chicago; Alexander (“Sandy”) Brucker, Philadelphia; and Lawrence Singerman, Cleveland. The training program physicians from the 1980's also took leadership positions in academic and private practice, including Neil Bressler, Susan Bressler, and Julia Haller at Wilmer; Hilel Lewis in Cleveland and Marco Zarbin in Newark. The training program physicians from the 1990's and this decade are continuing this tradition: for example, Mark Humuyan and Jennifer Lim have joined the retinal faculty at USC, Culver Boldt is with the University of Iowa, Sharon Fekrat is at Duke University, Anat Loewenstein is chair of the largest eye department in Tel Aviv, J B Harlan is at Sinai Hospital, and Sharon Solomon is on the faculty at Wilmer.

Contact us

Fellowship Coordinator: Jenn Anderson
Telephone: (410) 614-1453 
Fax: (410) 367-2495
back to top button