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  • 2019 Guest of Honor: Michael T. Trese, MD

  • Michael T. Trese, MD The American Academy of Ophthalmology and Academy President George A. Williams, MD are pleased to recognize Michael T. Trese, MD, as a Guest of Honor at AAO 2019 in San Francisco.

    It’s not an exaggeration to say that Mike Trese is the father of modern pediatric vitreoretinal surgery.

    In the late 1980s, Dr. Trese revolutionized pediatric vitreoretinal surgery with the concept of lens-sparing vitrectomy. Prior to that, surgery for complex pediatric retinal detachment due to advanced retinopathy of prematurity was typically unsuccessful. His meticulous study of the differences between pediatric and adult retinal detachment were seminal.

    Dr. Trese subsequently applied these techniques to other diseases such as familial exudative vitreoretinopathy, juvenile X-linked retinoschisis and Coats disease. A dedicated educator, Dr. Trese taught his technique to a generation of fellows and colleagues. These techniques are now performed throughout the world and have restored sight to untold thousands of children. Few ophthalmologists have had as profound an impact on any disease process as Dr. Trese has had on pediatric retinal detachment.

    Dr. Trese’s training in ocular pathology provides him with powerful insights into the pathogenesis of retinal disease. His laboratory’s work lead to the first Food and Drug Administration-approved drug for pharmacologic vitreolysis. Subsequently, he and his colleagues have explored the concepts of regenerative medicine involving critical cellular signaling pathways in the retina. This work hold great promise for the prevention of visual loss and the restoration of sight.

    From a health policy perspective, Dr. Trese recognized the difficulties in providing appropriate and timely screening of babies for retinopathy of prematurity as well as the need to educate ophthalmologists on the latest concepts in ROP. This led to the development of photographic screening protocols with telemedicine and an educational program called FocusROP that is used throughout the world.

    Dr. Trese’s natural leadership skills have been long recognized by his colleagues. He is a past president of The Retina Society and is the current president of the Club Jules Gonin. He is a recipient of the Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award and served as past program chair of Retinal Specialty Day and currently as chair of the Academy task force on telemedicine.

    I have had the privilege of working with Dr. Trese on a near daily basis over the past 30 years. During that time I have witnessed him tackle the toughest retinal diseases with both skill and remarkable empathy. I can’t recall the number of times I have seen him comfort parents distraught over their child’s condition. These are some of the most difficult conversations imaginable, and he always handles them with grace, candor and compassion.

    One needs only to visit Dr. Trese’s private office to see what his patients think of him. His office is a collection of children’s drawings and artwork thanking him for the vision he has provided them. The impact he has had on these children’s lives is immeasurable. Dr. Trese lives the Academy mission of protecting sight and empowering lives every day. He has made me a better doctor, but more importantly a better person. I am proud to call him my friend and colleague and to recognize him as a guest of honor.

    - George A. Williams, MD