Following the Fellows: Dr. Ehsan Rahimy at Wills Eye Hospital

April 27, 2015, Following the Fellows

I originally met Dr. Ehsan Rahimy this past October at the AAO in Chicago where he was being presented with the Ronald G. Michels Fellowship Foundation Award. This prestigious award is granted annually to the outstanding second-year vitreoretinal fellows in training. There are currently 75 Michels Fellows since its inception in 1991. Dr. Arunan Sivalignam, one of Dr. Rahimy’s attending physicians and mentors, introduced him at the award ceremony and outlined his accomplishments.

Dr. Rahimy is presently in his second year of Fellowship at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I interviewed Dr. Rahimy so as to get his perspective on as to why he chose retina, his favorite small gauge platform, instrumentation and where he enjoys to visit when he has spare time from his fellowship.

Where did you attend medical school and residency?
Dr. Rahimy: I graduated medical school from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and afterwards completed my residency in ophthalmology at Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA in Los Angeles, California.

One question that I always enjoying asking Fellows is; “why did you choose Retina?” The variety of answers is always found enjoyable by my readers.
Dr. Rahimy: I was drawn in by the dual capability of improving patients’ quality of living through medical as well as surgical interventions. Specifically, retina struck me as a specialty making dynamic research progress and actually translating that to the clinic or operating room. I see our field being practiced entirely differently 5 years from now compared to how it is currently. The promise for innovation and change is really exciting. 

What’s the biggest surprise, thus far, in your second year of Fellowship?
Dr. Rahimy: The beauty of working within such a busy fellowship as we have at Wills is the extremely diverse training backgrounds of the faculty. There are many… many different ways to skin a cat, and as fellows here, we get comfortable with all the different techniques, and the nuances of operating with each attending. Initially, this came as a surprise, but I have come to appreciate the diversity as one of the major strengths of training in this fellowship program.

Small gauge surgery has evolved over the last decade considering those presently available; 23, 25 and now 27-gauges. Which is your favorite small gauge platform? As a follow-up question, why?
Dr. Rahimy: I prefer 23-gauge, because it offers me the capability to handle the entire spectrum of cases we see in our field (i.e. membrane peels, to retinal detachments, to retained lens material) using a single platform in the most time-efficient manner.

Is this different from what your Attending Physicians are presently utilizing?
Dr. Rahimy: Our attendings use a mixture of both 23, 25, and even now are selectively incorporating 27-gauge platforms into their armamentarium.

I know Wills Eye Hospital is an extremely busy facility surgically. What is your current surgical case volume?
Dr. Rahimy: Wills is known for being a very high surgical volume fellowship. I’m currently over 1,000 retina surgical procedures heading into the home stretch of my fellowship, and will graduate with close to 1,300 cases.

Surgical hand-held instrumentation is a favorite amongst retina specialists. What is your favorite hand-held instrument and why?
Dr. Rahimy: The disposable ALCON® GRIESHABER® ILM forceps are my favorite hand-held instrument. These lightweight forceps allow me to work on delicate membranes with precise grasping. Additionally, the design of the tip of the forceps makes it ideal for visualization of the underlying tissue.

Finally, I know Retina Fellows regardless of their being in their first or second year of Fellowship have very little time off? Where’s your favorite place to vacation, when you have a few days off?
Dr. Rahimy: Visiting my family at home in beautiful, always sunny San Diego. 

Dr. Rahimy will be joining Houston Eye Associates back in Houston, Texas starting this fall. His individual accomplishments are outstanding from his Research & Development to his level of patient care. He has the most important, “can-do attitude.” He will no doubt do spectacular things through out his career in Retina.

Dr. Rahimy can be contacted via e-mail at



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