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Programs and research
Help today, hope for tomorrow
The gift of sight is precious. At UW Health, we help protect and enhance this treasured sense. Whether you need a regular eye exam or are dealing with a complex eye condition that requires expert medical attention, we’re here to help.
Our team uses advanced technology to diagnose and treat eye disorders. We are leaders in eye (ophthalmic) photography as a form of eye imaging. It helps us diagnose many eye conditions and guide your treatment.
We also have the only eye pathology lab in Wisconsin. In fact, it’s one of just a few in the country. Our internationally recognized staff looks at eye tissue removed by your doctor to make an exact diagnosis, so you get the best eye possible care.
Our research puts new, improved treatments in sight
We offer help to improve your vision today. We also offer promising new therapies. Many aren’t widely available elsewhere.
Specialists around the world recognize UW Health Ophthalmology for our eye care programs. We’re also known for advancing the field of ophthalmology.
Our doctors and researchers work together to understand the causes of eye diseases, so they can find new ways to prevent them. They’re working to bring about exciting genetic therapies and more treatments that stop blinding diseases.
New treatments grow out of clinical trials. These trials allow us to study the effects on people while ensuring they are healthy and safe for everyone.
With three optical shops in the Madison area and online options, we can meet all your eyewear needs. We have prescription glasses, contact lenses, sunglasses and more. Our friendly opticians will help you find the style and price range that’s right for you.
Conditions and treatments
Full-service eye care for you and your family
At UW Health, we care for children and adults. We help you get an accurate diagnosis and the treatment that’s best for you.
Look forward to better eye health
Once we've helped you find a diagnosis, we use nonsurgical and surgical treatments to improve your eye health, vision and appearance. Conditions we treat include:
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among people older than 50. The disorder occurs when the tissue at the back of the eye (retina) begins to break down as you age. You might notice a loss of sight in your central line of vision. This is because the cells in the center (macula) of the retina stop working.
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. When this happens, light cannot pass to the back of your eye and your vision becomes hazy.
These are conditions that affect the surface of the eye. The most common conditions are dry eye, blepharitis (eyelid irritation), conjunctivitis (pink eye), allergies, corneal infections and dystrophies.
Diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss and blindness in people with diabetes. Diabetes mellitus causes damage to blood vessels in the retina. This can lead to leakage or bleeding in your retina and eye. Damage may occur without symptoms. Annual examinations are recommended by an eye care professional for all patients with diabetes mellitus.
Dry eye is a common condition and happens when your tears don’t provide enough lubrication for your eyes.
Injuries of the eye, eyelid and eye socket (orbit) can result from sports, accidents or foreign objects in the eye. Pain, swelling and redness are common in eye injuries. Serious injury can result in vision loss.
Eye tumors (ophthalmic or ocular tumors) can be cancerous or noncancerous and develop in your eyes. The most common eye tumors include melanoma, retinoblastoma and metastases (tumors that have spread from the surrounding areas). Eyelid tumors can also be cancerous or noncancerous and may include skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma, melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Common tumors of the eye socket (orbit) include cysts, lymphoma, metastases, vascular (blood vessel) lesions and neurogenic (nerve) tumors.
Eyelid disorders include:
Droopy eyelids (eyelid dermatochalasis or ptosis)
Droopy eyebrows (eyebrow ptosis)
Entropion (eyelid turning inward)
Ectropion (eyelid turning outward)
Skin cancer of the eyelid
Trichiasis (abnormal eyelashes)
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that might rob you of your vision. Its exact cause is unknown. In many cases, it’s believed to occur when pressure builds up in your eye. This damages your optic nerve.
Inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) can cause vision loss or blindness. They are caused by at least one gene that is not working properly. They can affect people of all ages and many have symptoms that get worse over time.
Keratoconus is when your cornea (the clear front surface of your eye) thins and bulges out in a cone shape. This causes blurred vision and light and glare sensitivity.
Low vision is impaired eyesight that cannot be corrected by eyeglasses, contact lenses, medications or surgery. The most common causes of low vision are macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
Neuro-ophthalmic disorders are vision disorders associated with the brain and systemic conditions. They include:
Vision loss due to brain tumor or stroke
Optic neuritis due to multiple sclerosis, infection (syphilis, lyme disease, tuberculosis, COVID-19, flu) or other autoimmune diseases
Vision loss due to poor nutrition (vitamin deficiency), toxicity (e.g., tuberculosis medication) or genetic disease
Double vision due to misalignment of the eyes
Droopy eyelids (ptosis)
Ischemic optic neuropathy — swelling of the optic nerve from blocked blood vessels
Ocular myasthenia gravis — an autoimmune disorder that causes droopy eyelid and/or double vision
Papilledema — swelling of the optic nerves due to raised brain pressure
Birth defects affecting the eyes
Diplopia double vision
Eye muscle conditions (binocular vision disorders, strabismus)
Genetic disorders of the eyes
Droopy eyelids (ptosis)
Tear duct conditions
Strabismus occurs when the eyes do not look in the same direction due to weak or misaligned eye muscles. One eye can wander or move independently.
Tearing (eye-watering) can happen when the tear duct is blocked, or when the eyes produce too many tears. Conditions that can cause tearing include:
Blocked tear drain (nasolacrimal duct obstruction)
Thyroid eye disease (TED) is swelling of the eye muscles, eyelids and tissues behind the eye, usually related to abnormalities in thyroid hormone levels. This can cause red, swollen and uncomfortable eyes and can push the eyes forward, resulting in “bulging eyes.”
Uveitis is inflammation of the middle layer of the eye (uvea), usually caused by your immune system fighting an infection. Sometimes your immune system can attack healthy tissue in your eye, too.
Vitreous fluid is the clear gel-like substance that helps your eye keep its shape. The retina is the back part of your eye that receives light. The very center of your retina is the macula, which is where light focuses, giving you sharp vision. Vitreoretinal disorders can affect any of these three areas and include:
Flashes and floaters
Macular degeneration and holes
Retinopathy of prematurity
Treatments and services
We personalize our care to your needs and unique situation. Services and treatments we offer include:
Cataract surgery separates the cataract from the lens capsule. In most cases, the lens is replaced with an intraocular lens implant (IOL).
A corneal transplant (keratoplasty) replaces part of the cornea with corneal tissue from a donor.
Glasses including single and multifocal
Contact lenses, including specialty lenses such as hybrid and hand-painted lenses
Assistive technologies for low vision patients, including:
Hand-held, stand and pocket-lighted magnifiers
Telescope and microscope glasses
Absorptive filters (prescription and non-prescription)
Portable and desktop video magnifiers
Other optical aids
Vision rehabilitation is the process of maximizing visual functional ability, improving quality of life and independence in a person who has visual impairment. A patient's rehabilitation plan can include prescription glasses, contact lenses, magnification devices, electronic devices, assistive technology, therapeutic filters, training on eccentric viewing, non-optical aids and referral for additional services with other professionals.
Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) is a type of plastic surgery around the eyes. It improves drooping of your eyelids and the puffy bags that can sometimes appear below your eyes. The surgery involves removing excess fat, muscle and skin. This could help you appear younger and more alert and can also improve your peripheral vision. Learn more
Botox, Juvéderm, Restylane and other facial fillers can also be used for facial rejuvenation. Learn more
When your two eyes do not move together correctly, your binocular vision is affected. Orthoptics use treatments such as eye patches, eye exercises, prisms or glasses to strengthen the muscles that control your eye movements to improve alignment.
Oculoplastic (oculofacial) surgery is plastic surgery to the areas around the eyes: The eyelids, orbit (bones and soft tissues behind the eye) and lacrimal (tear) system. Eyelid surgeries include blepharoplasty, ptosis repair, ectropion repair, entropion repair and eyelid reconstruction following trauma or skin cancer treatment.
Our eye surgeons perform several types of refractive surgery:
Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) uses an excimer laser to shave ultra thin layers of tissue from the cornea.
Laser In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) combines the use of a special instrument known as a microkeratome to create a “flap” of corneal tissue. The laser is then used, like PRK, to treat your nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism under this flap.
IntraLASIK uses a computer-guided laser that delivers a near infrared beam of light to create a flap from below the surface of the cornea.
Custom LASIK uses a wavefront analyzer to guide the treatment of additional imperfections in the optical system of the eye called “higher order optical aberrations.”
An office visit to check vision, screen for eye disease, and/or update eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions.
Scleral lenses are custom-made contact lenses designed to fit your specific eyes. They are for patients with the following conditions:
Pellucid marginal degeneration
Salzmann’s nodular degeneration
Ocular surface diseases
Severe dry eye syndrome
Systemic autoimmune disorders
Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD)
Epidermal ocular disorders
Ocular cicatricial pemphigoid
Sharp vision correction for patients with normal corneas
Multifocal for presbyopia
To help diagnose diabetic retinopathy earlier, primary care facilities throughout Wisconsin can participate in our Teleophthalmology program. Patients with diabetes are referred by their primary care provider (PCP) to get their eyes screened during a regular visit, in the same building and without having to make a second trip or appointment. The images are sent to UW Health eye specialists in Madison, who send reports back to the primary care clinic and patients.
Surgeries to repair disorders of the vitreous, retina and macula.
See an eye specialist near you
We provide ophthalmology and optometry services at several locations in Madison and the surrounding area.
Meet our team
More than 40 eye doctors, 16 sub-specialties
At UW Health, we have a large team of knowledgeable and experienced eye doctors. They provide specialized care for all your eye health needs.
View our pediatric eye care providers
Sight-saving care: Stories of those we’ve helped
UW Health eye care specialists strive to provide you the best vision and quality of life. Discover how we’ve made a difference for others.
Perhaps you are grateful for the care you or a loved one received from UW Health. Or you cherish living so close to a world-class, research-driven healthcare system that’s always there if you need it. No matter your motivation, every gift of any size means even better care for our patients.