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The University of North Carolina offers a 2 -year corneal and external disease fellowship under faculty mentors.  The fellowship provides extensive training in all aspects of diagnosis, clinical care, and surgical management of cornea and external diseases.

The corneal fellow examines patients at the UNC Kittner Eye Center with close mentoring by the cornea faculty. The surgical experience includes cataract, corneal, conjunctiva, and anterior segment reconstruction surgery. Corneal surgery includes relaxing incisions for astigmatism, debridement for anterior basement membrane disease including Salzmann’s nodular degeneration. Corneal transplantation, a central focus includes full thickness keratoplasty, DSAEK, and DMEK. Other surgical procedures include conjunctivoplasty for conjunctivochalasis; pterygium excision, surgical and medical management for conjunctival carcinoma in situ.

The fellow’s surgical experience is matched by rich opportunities in the medical management of corneal diseases such as dry eye disease. The fellow will participate in the diagnostic and treatment of dry eye disease with the latest technology including Lipiview, Lipiflow and IPL treatments. Management of corneal ulcers, graft vs host disease, uveitis, scleritis, herpetic eye disease as well as other infectious diseases.

A particular rich experience for the Cornea Fellow is participation in the management of Stevens Johnson Syndrome at the UNC Burn Unit with use of amniotic membrane and buccal mucus membrane grafting.

The fellowship requires a significant research experience to prepare fellows for clinical trials, investigator-initiated clinical or basic science research. UNC Eye has a focus in gene therapy. Ongoing studies include adeno-associated virus (AAV) research to prevent corneal neovascularization, and corneal graft rejection. In addition, ongoing research in dry eye, corneal topopgraphy, and pterygia provide opportunities for basic and clinical research.

Weekly Grand Rounds in the Ophthalmology Department are held Wednesday mornings and consist of presentations of interesting cases by residents and fellows with discussion among faculty. The cornea fellow will meet on a regular basis with cornea faculty and rotating residents to discuss interesting topics and/or journal club articles.

The fellow will participate in the teaching of residents and will serve in rotation as faculty-on-call (approximately 1 out of every 8 weeks).