Why Iowa

We Have an Outstanding Faculty of Teachers, Healers, and Researchers

Our glaucoma faculty are among the nation's best, as reflected in our authorship of texts in the discipline and of reports of basic and clinical research in leading journals, receipt of research funds and training grants, election to leadership positions in ophthalmology, and receipt of national and international recognition for achievements. The Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences is consistently ranked in the top ten in surveys such as U.S. News Best Hospitals.

We provide an education in the molecular understanding of glaucoma, the critical evaluation of new information, as well as instruction in the current diagnosis and treatment of disease. Our fellows complete our training program with a confidence in their knowledge and abilities, an awareness of where the understanding and treatment of glaucoma is now and where it is going, and the tools to participate fully in its exciting future.

The Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Iowa has a unique, superlative teaching program. Morning rounds are held Monday through Thursday from 8:00 to 8:45 a.m. These are attended by all faculty, fellows, and residents and consist of patient presentations, seminars, and interesting discussions. Every Friday morning during the academic year, faculty members present a two hour lecture covering sections of the Basic and Clinical Sciences course subject material. The Glaucoma Service has chart rounds at the end of every clinic day.

Glaucoma Workroom

Morning Rounds

Our program is one of the few, if not the only, training program in the nation that offers grand rounds four days a week. 

Residents, fellows, and faculty congregate in the Braley Auditorium for an informal, friendly, and often lively exchange of interesting patient cases. These daily rounds are the heart of the teaching program of this department and set it apart from every other ophthalmology department in the country. They are both educational and stimulating. Because of our broad patient referral base it is possible to conduct rounds on a daily basis without running out of interesting material to present. This referral base, which includes all of Iowa and the neighboring states of Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Missouri, provides an extensive and formidable source for eye pathology from which everyone can learn. In the United States today, few training programs are afforded such a referral base.

We offer other venues for presentation of cases and clinical observations as well including on-call rounds, genetics rounds, service rounds, fluorescein conference, and clinical conferences.


The cases and discussions presented by Residents and Fellows at Grand Rounds are often further developed and published as case reports and tutorials on EyeRounds.org, a website of the University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.

Each day, thousands of visitors from around the globe access these educational materials freely via the internet. While academic research and traditional publications remain a cornerstone of the academic experience at Iowa, we encourage the EyeRounds educational materials, which are internally peer-reviewed, as an adjunctive way for Residents and Fellows to share case reports, surgical videos, and discussions with the world.

Collegiality and Friendly Working / Living Environment

Of the many strengths that contribute to our program’s strong reputation, one of the greatest is its long history of collegiality and its friendly working and living environment. For many years the Department has enjoyed the reputation of being a pleasant and congenial place to work. We value this reputation because we believe that the best atmosphere for learning ophthalmology is one that is friendly and supportive.

Our Laboratories are at the Forefront of Glaucoma Research

Kwon ResearchThe Glaucoma Center Laboratories are at the forefront of understanding the underlying genetic, biochemical and physiologic basis of glaucoma. We are building upon important discoveries that were made here at the University of Iowa:

  • The first genetic linkage for primary open angle glaucoma (GLC1A).
  • The first gene for primary open angle glaucoma (myocilin).
  • The two genes for the developmental glaucoma Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome (PITX2 and FOXC1).
  • A gene for normal tension glaucoma that was the first glaucoma gene discovered using studies of copy number variations (TBK1).
  • Discovery of a mouse model of pseudoexfoliation (LYST).
  • Creation of a mouse model of myocilin glaucoma.

We maintain one of the largest collections of DNA from patients with glaucoma in the entire world. We have also developed the capacity for growing stem cells from patients own skin biopsies and studying stem cells that have been turned into tissues that are damaged in glaucoma. This stem cell technology gives us the chance to do studies that would not be possible in any other way and also holds a promise for therapeutic developments using stem cells. The combined resources of these laboratories approach the underlying causes of glaucoma in different but highly integral ways. We then seek to understand how these genes affect individual cells and then how these cells behave within an entire organism.

The University of Iowa, The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and The Carver College of Medicine

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
Photo by University Relations Photography/University of Iowa

The Carver College of Medicine is on the campus of the University of Iowa, one of the top ten public institutions for federally supported research. We have taken advantage of our proximity to scientists in multiple disciplines to weave together a research program that takes advantage of members of the faculties in Ophthalmology, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Physiology, Biomedical Engineering, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Pediatrics, Neurology, and Genetics.

A First-Rate Hospital

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is one of "America's Best Hospitals" designated by U.S. News & World Report. The American Nurses Credentialing Center awarded UI Hospitals and Clinics the state's first Magnet Award for Nursing Excellence in 2004, and twice granted Magnet re-designation for four years (2008-2013).

We serve a large Midwest region for both primary care and specialized care. We are the state's highest level of referral for several specialties. This comprehensive nature assures that during your fellowship you will be exposed to a broad mix of patients and conditions.

Salary, Benefits, Schedules

Our fellows have a competitive stipend; couple that fact with the relatively modest cost of living in the Iowa City area, and UI Hospitals and Clinics compares very well to programs in large urban settings. Our work schedules include maternity leave benefits and meet national standards for time on duty and time off between shifts. The department provides a salary for the glaucoma fellow at the PGY-5 level. 

We Sweat the Details

Your work as a fellow will be demanding enough. With that in mind, our Graduate Medical Education Office has developed a suite of services to handle the details of employment, licensure, immigration, housing, even assistance for job placement of spouses and significant others. The dedicated professionals in our Graduate Medical Education office see to it that your time and effort are concentrated where they need to be--on your patients and on your career development.

And You'll Love This Part--Iowa City

Quality of Life

Iowa City and surrounding communities get consistently high ratings from national indexes of great places to live. Affordable housing, outstanding schools, moderate cost of living, good shopping and entertainment, low crime, excellent transportation, and a mix of diverse cultures all make it a great choice, especially when you consider that much of it is available within easy walking or biking distance from our world-class hospital.

Being located on a Big Ten University campus creates a big plus for our fellows. The University is a lively place for cultural and recreational activities. It is a hub for high-level sports and offers the excellent libraries, museums, and cultural centers you'd expect from a Big Ten school. Iowa has the smallest enrollment among the public Big Ten schools, which translates into a campus that's easy to navigate and a surrounding community that supports everything we do for our students and trainees.