The Duke Vitreoretinal Division has a long history of excellence. The field of retinal surgery was pioneered at Duke by former chair (1978-1991), Dr. Robert Machemer is widely considered to be the “father of vitreoretinal surgery.”  Arguably the best academic vitreoretinal division in the world, the division is extremely active in clinical care of the entire spectrum of retinal disorders, world-recognized research and extremely competitive fellowship training programs. The division comprises 17 fellowship-trained retinal specialists, including nine vitreoretinal surgeons and eight medical retina specialists. All subspecialities in retina are covered by an expert, including uveitis, pediatric retina, ophthalmic oncology, inherited retinal degeneration and ophthalmic genetics.   


  • Provide the best possible care for individuals suffering from retinal conditions. Evaluate and treat the full range of vitreoretinal diseases  

  • Discover important new knowledge about causes, mechanisms, diagnosis and treatment of retinal diseases and continue innovative imaging technique development 

  • Translate research innovations into new care modalities 

  • Train future leaders in the medical and surgical management retinal diseases, ophthalmic oncology and retinal degenerations  


  • Duke Reading Center is the largest independent core lab that analyzes images from national and international multicenter clinical trials 

  • World-renowned for innovative, cutting-edge clinical, translational, and basic research including both academic achievements and commercialized inventions  

  • Many faculty are active investigators in a wide range of federal and industry sponsored research, spanning RO1, R21 and U10 grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Eye Institute (NEI), Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB), industry  sponsors and many other foundation grants and awards.  

  • Translational research projects focused on intraocular drug delivery, retinal imaging, ophthalmic surgical technology, retinal disease biomarker identification and new drugs to treat retinal disorders.  

  • Basic research focuses basic science of vision, developmental biology, age related macular degeneration and retinal vascular diseases 

  • Retinal imaging and AMD research deserve special mention. These programs are unique as they include a multidisciplinary approach, have developed intellectual property (IP) with commercial potential and integrate basic and translational research with clinical care 

  • Arguably the nation’s leading center for pediatric retina, renown for pioneering efforts in novel retinal imaging technology 

  • Faculty are internationally recognized for their achievements 

  • Faculty publish extensively in top-tier and high-impact factor ophthalmology journals, including New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Science, Nature and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). 

  • Innovative ocular imaging technology including analysis software and hardware that have led to licensed products, based on Duke IP, that are currently used around the world (see research summary for more information). 

  • Extensive innovations in the principles, technologies and procedures for vitroretinal surgery 

The Duke Vitreoretinal Division faculty leads a fellowship program that is highly competitive and one of the most sought-after programs in the country.  There are currently eight vitreoretinal fellows.   

  • Fellowship program includes a two-year surgical fellowship, a one-year medical retina fellowship 

  • Two new fellowships established in the last 5 years include ophthalmic oncology, and retinal degenerations and ophthalmic genetics  

  • Duke sponsors programs such as the highly-respected Advanced Vitreoretinal Surgical Course (AVS), The AVS course was created by Robert Machemer, MD former Ophthalmology Chair, more than 40 years ago, first of its type in the world at that time and has served as the model for subsequent national and international vitreoretinal courses and has continued to the present.  The program features Duke vitreoretinal faculty as well as vitreoretinal surgery leaders around the world who spend two days lecturing and leading wet labs. 

  • The Duke Fellows AVS program held annually was created in 2014 for vitreoretinal fellows. The program features Duke vitreoretinal faculty as well as vitreoretinal surgery leaders around the world who spend two days lecturing and leading wet labs.  

The vitreoretinal clinical faculty have a long history as leaders in diagnosing and treating retinal diseases, with unique expertise that attract patients from all over the country as well as outside of the United States.  To increase productivity on a year-by-year basis, the faculty have maintained a high profile among ophthalmologists in North Carolina, surrounding states, and across the country through educational activities, presentations at local and national meetings, Duke sponsored events, and participation in clinical research. 

  • Significant referral center across the country 

  • Centers of Distinction established in the last 5 years include: 

  • Duke Pediatric Retina and Optic Nerve Center 

  • Duke Center for Ophthalmic Oncology 

  • Duke Center for Retinal Degenerations and Ophthalmic Genetic Diseases  

  • Treatments for common, complex and rare retinal conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), uveitis, pediatric retina an optic nerve disorders, uveitis, retinal vein occlusion, macular holes, and retinitis pigmentosa