Following the Fellows with Dr. Victor Villegas

August 10, 2015, Following the Fellows

Dr. Victor M. Villegas just completed his Fellowship at the end of June. He trained with  Timothy G. Murray, MD at Murray Ocular Oncology, Miami, FL, and operated at Baptist Hospital and Miami Children’s Hospital. His Fellowship provided training in all areas of Retina, as well as Retinablastoma, since there is a focus on Ocular Oncology in Dr. Murray’s practice.

Following the Fellows is always interesting because of their candidness, wisdom and future plans. Dr. Villegas’ imparts the following wisdom to the incoming Fellows. He says, “you should read Retina Fifth Edition by the late Dr. Stephen J. Ryan.”

I asked Dr. Murray about Dr. Villegas and he said, “Dr. Villegas was an amazing vitreo-retinal surgical Fellow. Victor brought excellent skills to the operating room, particularly focused on combined posterior/anterior surgical procedures. Victor’s interest in pediatric retina (having completed a pediatric Fellowship at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, BPEI, PRIOR to starting his two year Vitreo-retinal surgical Fellowship) also brought a unique focus to the Fellowship. Training such an excellent young surgeon is always a pleasure. Dr. Villegas will ultimately bring superb pediatric retina to Puerto Rico when he returns home in two years.”

Dr. Villegas is now holding dual academic positions at BPEI and University of Puerto Rico. He joined the Retina Service at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute as clinical assistant professor with a primary practice location in Naples, Florida.

Where did you attend to Medical school?
Dr. Villegas: I attended medical school at the University of Puerto Rico. I think it was an amazing experience because it provided significant autonomy and surgical volume. I had a vast medical and surgical experience primarily because there is only one referral center in Puerto Rico and there are no fellows at our program. This meant that residents managed all the complicated cases. As a resident, I also had the opportunity to perform over 40 pars plana vitrectomies as the primary surgeon.

Why did you choose Retina versus another subspecialty?
Dr. Villegas: I actually did a pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus fellowship before undergoing training in retina. The most appealing feature in retina is having the opportunity to care for patients with visual threatening diseases. These are the patients that benefit the most from our expertise. I find extremely gratifying saving sight, especially in children.

What’s the biggest surprise, thus far, in your second year of Fellowship?
Dr. Villegas: It’s clear to me that retina is a very complex field and that fellowship only provides you with the building blocks to develop your career. The second year provides you mostly with refinement of surgical technique and repetition training.

What’s your favorite small gauge platform? And why?
Dr. Villegas: I prefer 23-gauge over 27-gauge mainly because of the faster cutting volume rate. However, I find the 25-gauge especially useful for trimming closer to the retina in diabetic retinopathy cases.

Is that different than what your Attending Physicians use during surgery?
Dr. Villegas: We use the same platform and gauges. What I do is modeled very closely by what my attending physicians have taught me.

What is your surgical case volume?
Dr. Villegas: I have performed over 450 vitrectomies as a primary surgeon. I do not like to focus too much on the numbers because everybody has a different learning curve. Surgery is a craft and numbers can be deceiving.

What is your favorite hand-held instrument and why?
Dr. Villegas: The 20-D lens coupled with an indirect ophthalmoscope because the clinical impression is the most important of all.

What is your favorite place to vacation when you have a few days off?
Dr. Villegas: When I have a weekend off you will most certainly find me anchored in a red sailboat at the north side of Sands Key, Biscayne National Park.

What advice or guidance would you offer to the new Fellows who started their Fellowship training in July?
Dr. Villegas: You should read Retina Fifth Edition by the late Stephen J. Ryan, MD, before starting your fellowship in order to maximize your learning during training.

RetinaLink wishes Dr. Villegas all the best and he can be reached by e-mail at


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