The Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences’ cornea and external disease service has its focus on the “window” of the eye, or cornea, as well as, adjacent structures that comprise and impact upon the ocular surface. Epitomizing the complexity of the eye itself, the cornea, while being barely more than one-half millimeter thick, is compose of three distinct layers, each of an embryologically distinct cell type, whose functions and interaction provide for the maintenance of clarity, and normal transmission of light into the eye, allowing for clear vision.
Dr. John Halgren, Associate Professor, and Director of the cornea service, now in his 14th year at UNMC, combines belief in practicing evidence based medicine with the provision of recent advanced therapies and techniques to consistently provide patients with the highest level of clinical and surgical care. In this fashion, all manner of corneal and ocular surface diseases: infectious, inflammatory, neoplastic, degenerative, hereditary/dystrophic and traumatic are diagnosed and managed, both medically and surgically. The service has developed into a regional referral center for difficult cases of corneal ulceration, severe dry eye, corneal degenerations, as pterygium and keratoconus, and corneal dystrophies, as Fuchs endothelial dystrophy. Dr. Halgren specializes in advanced keratoplasty techniques as anterior lamellar keratoplasty, for keratoconus, et al, and Descemet’s stripping endothelial keratoplasty(DSEK), for disorders of endothelial dysfunction. Both are newer techniques allowing for partial thickness corneal transplantation, rather than “full thickness” procedures.
In the coming years, Dr. Halgren plans to be involved in collaborative research investigating novel therapies for dysfunctional tear syndromes(dry eye). He and the cornea service will look to provide further advances in both the art of surgical keratoplasty, as well as, other ocular surface reconstructive procedures, and in the medical management of complex conditions as dry eye diseases.