Special Eye Trauma Center Treats Region's Most Serious Eye Emergency Cases 24/7

33 Trauma Surgeons On-Call Nightly at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary

Photo of Dr. John Aljian with Patient in the Minor Surgery Room
PHOTO: John Aljian, MD, Co-Chief of  the Eye Trauma Center.

New York (Spring 2003) -- Where do you go in the middle of the night in Metro New York if you have a severe eye accident that threatens your vision? Most of the region’s worst emergency eye trauma cases are referred to the New York Eye Trauma Center at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, which has 33 board-certified, sub-specialty eye surgeons on call 24/7.

"The injured eye is very unforgiving, so speed, specialty care and new medical technologies are of the essence in treating ocular trauma," said John M. Aljian, M.D., co-chief of the eye trauma service at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. "Almost every night, we have vision-threatening emergencies referred to us that cannot be treated at general hospitals and university medical centers." 

Recent examples: A police officer had a car accident and the glass from the side view mirror penetrated his cornea, iris and lens. A construction worker was wiring the ceiling on a renovation site and a wire snapped completely shredding his cornea. Both patients, following emergency surgery and extended post-op monitoring, now have excellent vision. 

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"When patients visit a hospital emergency department for a dog bite that penetrates the eye lid or for a car accident that causes eye trauma, they are treated by an emergency room physician because there is no ophthalmologist on duty," said Dr. Aljian. "At The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, there is an ophthalmologist on duty at all times and emergency patients are seen by a specialist right away. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary also has the region’s largest, most experienced team of sub-specialty trauma surgeons on call at all times. This makes The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary's service unique in New York City."

This year, The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary was selected as the Eye Injury Registry for the State of New York and became a member of the United States Eye Injury Registry. "This will facilitate collection of eye injury data in a standardized fashion and allow us to conduct epidemiological research, develop preventive strategies, conduct clinical trials and optimize treatments," said Ronald Gentile, M.D., co-chief of the Eye Trauma Center. 

When a patient is referred to the New York Eye Trauma Service, the triage officer on duty, a senior house staff physician, refers the patient to one of The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary's 33 on call eye surgeons, who are divided into three sub-specialties: anterior segment trauma surgeons (who treat the cornea, iris and lens); posterior segment trauma surgeons (who treat the retina), and oculoplastic trauma surgeons (who provide reconstructive and plastic surgery for the eye socket and eye lids). 

The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary also holds monthly eye trauma conferences where complex cases are presented and discussed among the medical and surgical staff.

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If you are a reporter seeking to interview this or any other doctor at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, please contact Jean Thomas, at (212) 979-4274, or Axel F. Bang, at (914) 234-5433.

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