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FDA Permits Marketing of IDx-DR for Automated Detection of Diabetic Retinopathy in Primary Care

Excerpt from IDx Press Release-

IDx, a privately-held AI diagnostics company, announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted the company’s De Novo request to market IDx-DR, an AI-based diagnostic system for the autonomous detection of diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness. IDx-DR is the first autonomous, without review by a human expert, AI-based diagnostic system ever authorized by the FDA in any field of medicine.

“The FDA’s authorization to market IDx-DR is a historic moment that has the potential to launch a transformation in the way U.S. healthcare is delivered,” said Dr. Michael Abramoff, MD, PhD, founder and president of IDx, and the Robert C. Watzke Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. “Autonomous AI systems have massive potential to improve healthcare productivity, lower healthcare costs, and improve accessibility and quality. As the first of its kind to be authorized for commercialization, IDx-DR provides a roadmap for the safe and responsible use of AI in medicine.”

Congratulations to Drs. Abramoff, Folk, Russell, Kwon, and the rest of the IDx team!

Read full press release


Photo from Press Release


A note from past fellow, Dr. Hari Chahal -

Hi Team!

You will be happy to know that I used all of my Iowa training/farm strength well on a medical mission to Honduras -- just returned yesterday. I was there for 5 days and did lots of surgeries (DCR, ptosis, enucleations, etc) for patients who really needed them. It was a great experience, and I wore my farmstrong shirt so people would know where I trained. ;) 

Thank you all for helping me learn so many useful skills the last few years, the patients down here were very incredibly thankful, and I owe it to all of you! It takes a team to train a surgeon...

Hope you're all well, and I miss all of you!



Hari Chahal


Megan Helms, 'Student Employee of the Year' Certificate of Distinction

Megan Helms, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences (Certificate of Distinction)

helmsArlene Drack, associate professor in ophthalmic genetics, says Megan Helms is in the top 0.1 percent of undergraduates with whom she has worked. The research assistant from Downs, Illinois, runs experiments on mouse models of human disease, analyzes data, computes statistics, and prepares and examines histologic sections. In fact, Helms is so trusted that she has supervised Drack’s lab during long stretches when the research assistant/lab manager has been away. “Megan is a leader in the lab, clearly knowledgeable and in control,” Drack says. “She is able to inspire those she is supervising to do their best work without getting angry or frustrated. Even the postdoc working on one of our projects looks to Megan for leadership.” By the end of this academic year, Helms will have been named as first author or co-author on three manuscripts. In addition, Helms, who also is an artist, made a stained-glass window incorporating the lab’s logo for the lab.

View full list of recipients

Drack Lab

Donate Life Blue and Green Day

Happy Donate Life 'Blue & Green Day'! 

2018 BlueGreen 300x250 Web

Joe Schmidt Jessica Goll and Gail Jons
Trish Duffel and Kelsey Hunold

What our patients are saying...

what our patients are sayingSubmitted by Joe Schmidt-

Periodically we share patient satisfaction information and positive comments received through Press-Ganey surveys.

*Submissions left as they were received*

Patient comments received in December-January:

- Dr. Kemp is truly an amazing specialist! she really cares about her patients! (Peds)

- Dr. Ian Han is an excellent Ophthalmologist. He cares about his patient. Dr. Han explains conditions of the eye very clearly. I would recommend Dr. Han to everyone. (Retina)

- The entire staff was helpful and very pleasant. (Retina)

- (best thing) The kindness and thoughtfulness of staff.  All are skilled and helpful. Thank you for allowing me to be a patient at your clinic. (General)

- awesome provider Dr. Bozung, awesome support staff, awesome place! (Cornea)

- Lisa Milder was extremely helpful/responsive to my emails. (Cornea)

- From the administrative. assistant staff, nurses and the doctor, every single one was extremely helpful, polite and professional --- a top-rated experience all the way. (Cornea)

- The retina clinic people are all wonderful every time I visit them. (Retina)

- Friendly, caring staff.  Kept moving between appointments. (Vision Rehab)

- Your staff is excellent and I am very grateful that I have the doctors and nurses I do. (IRL Refractive)

- Dr. Thurtell and his staff have been wonderful. (Neuro-Op)

- I just love *Debra.  She always remembers me and my family. (Plastics)

- The staff, nurses, and technicians are very good and very helpful. (IRL-Glaucoma)

- All the staff recognized that my child (the patient) was stressed they took extra time and effort to explain processes and soothe her. (Contact Lens)

- Dr. Bettis was outstanding, listening, respectful, honest and thoughtful. (Glaucoma)

- (Best thing) Stacey Moore's and Dr. Griess' comfortable communication with me. (IRL-General)

- (best thing) LPN Anita and the receptionists. (General)

- everyone from front desk to providers and check out were so friendly. great visit. (Contact Lens)

- The technician who gave the perimetry test was particularly kind (Peds)

- the staff is amazing. great people and knowledgeable. (Retina)

- All the staff.  They work well together and are very organized. (IRL-Plastics)

- Everyone was kind and helpful. With each of my surgeries the staff made me feel special and comfortable. (Cornea)

- Technician was PHENOMENAL! It shows that he enjoys what he does! (Peds)

- The scheduling staff went out of their way to find an optometrist to see me on extremely short notice. They are to be commended and have my appreciation. (Vision Rehab)

- Courtney is very good. (IRL-Plastics)

- I had spoken with Lannie the RN several times. she was always willing to go the extra mile to get things accomplished. She is very pleasant on the phone taking time to listen to the patient. (Retina)

- (best thing) the staff! Nan RN whom I spoke on the phone, Lannie the RN who called me several times to get everything worked out. Dr. Folk & Dr. Sohn and Dr. Scruggs are all excellent. (Retina)

- Dr. Griener and his care team are great!! (Cornea)

- Excellent staff and best care I have had in 50 years.  Very proud of your staff.  Each individual went beyond normal to make you feel comfortable.  Feeling they care about the patients is number one! (Plastics)

- Amy Troll was the specialist that worked with me for an hour or so. exceptional Healthcare care provider. she was outstanding. (Peds)

- Julie Music was prompt and exceptionally helpful in getting me scheduled. (Retina)

Benefits Office Hours

Submitted by Dawn McCalley-

Benefits Office Hours at UIHC
May-August 2018

First Tuesday (May 1, June 5, July 3, August 7) | 6 AM to 9 AM
Location: C462 GH (Elevator BW)

Second Wednesday (May 9, June 13, July 11, August 8) | 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM
Location: C500 GH (Elevator B)

Second Saturday (May 12, June 9, July 14, August 11) | 6 AM to 10 AM
Location: MarketPlace Dining

Third Saturday (May 19, June 16, July 21, August 18) | 6 AM to 10 AM
Location: MarketPlace/Foundation Dining Rooms

Fourth Wednesday (May 23, June 27, July 25, August 22) | 7 PM to 10 PM
Location: MarketPlace Dining

Benefit Office Hours at UIHC



Benefits Office Hours at HSSB
April-August 2018

Third Thursday of each month (April 19, May 17, June 21, August 16)
2 PM to 4 PM
Location: Training Rooms

Benefit Office Hours at HSSB

Wellness Corner

Check out these new cycling jerseys for sale to the public through April 22. Perfect for RAGBRAI!

Choose from:

- Men’s sport cut: full-zip, short sleeve, raglan sleeve for $54
- Ladies gemini tank for $54

UIHC Cycling jerseys

More information | Purchase jersey

Iowa Lions Eye Bank | Update

Submitted by Ashley Dockendorf-

ILEB groupphoto

Happy Blue and Green Day from everyone at the Iowa Lions Eye Bank!

Remember to mark your calendar for the UIHC Donate Life Ceremony on April 19th at 1:00 pm in the Clasen Board Room! There will be great speakers and refreshments are provided.


Clinical Conference: Oculoplastics

We had a great turnout at today's Oculoplastics Clinical Conference, featuring guest speaker, Don Kikkawa, MD, FACS, Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology and Vice-Chairman, Department of Ophthalmology at UC-San Diego Health, Shiley Eye Institute in La Jolla, CA.

Oculoplastics Clinical Conference

Oculoplastics group

Ko and Kikkawa

The Wolkens

Visit from Dr. Chris Blodi

Dr. Chris Blodi of Iowa Retina Consultants, joined us Monday, April 2, as our guest speaker, presenting two talks, “The Missing Link: Paul Sullivan, MD and the History of Intraocular SF6” and "An Unusual (?) Vitreous Aspirate". Dr. Blodi is an Iowa Eye grad (‘84F), as well as a former faculty member of the department.

Blodi guest lecture

Blodi guest lecture

Doc Dash 5k Run and Walk | Sat. April 7

It's not too late! 


Sign up for UI Doc Dash!  Uidocdash.com/register 

It’s a wonderful opportunity to help support the Iowa City Free Medical Clinic and the UI Mobile Clinic.

This is a family event and you can run, walk, or just show up to play games and eat food! Kids get a chance to run with Herky the Hawk during the Docling Race, there are STEM activities, and face painting.

Saturday, April 7th – 8 am check in!


Too busy or out of town? Sign up for our VIRTUAL run. You can run on your own and post your time on Facebook. We will send you a magnet and you can also get a shirt! You can also donate and help our cause!

Ocularist Prosthetics Service

Shortly after the creation of the Ocular Prosthetics Service, Joe Schmidtand Lindsay Pronk began working with the UIHC Marketing-Communications team on ways to highlight this newer service internally and externally.

Staff from the Mar-Com office worked with Lindsay to compile service information, and arrange photographs/video footage, including patient interviews. The service’s webpage was updated with new content and a fantastic video was just produced about the process and service. The video story will be shared in the coming days through social media and through Noon News/The Loop.

Video:  https://uihc.org/patient-stories/putting-me-back-together-prosthetic-eye

Ocular Prosthetics Service page: https://uihc.org/ocular-prosthetics-service

Lindsay Pronk, Ocularist

Welcome, Gwenevere Sue!

Matthew (Resident) and Elle Benage welcomed Gwenevere Sue Benage into the world on Saturday, March 31, 2018.

"Gwenevere is healthy and Elle is doing well. We are super excited and glad to finally have our little one here."

benage family

Matthew and Elle Benage, big brother Jackson, and baby Gwenevere Sue.

Wellness Corner | April 2018 Wellness Updates

Submitted by Tonya Looker-

Wellness icon

Today's Tip: 29 Ways to Stay Active at Your Desk

Group Health Coaching: Train Your Brain

train your brainAre you tired of feeling distracted or forgetting where you put your keys and phone? Join others while we explore ways to activate your brain to be healthier and happier. Learn how to create an environment your brain can thrive in and support improved thinking.

- Understand what impacts brain fatigue
- Explore strategies to improve focus and memory
- Identify techniques for a calmer mind

Section 1: West Campus, Tuesdays, 12:10 p.m.to 12:50 p.m. May 1, May 8, May 15, May 22 Melrose Room 3

Section 2: East Campus, Wednesdays, 12:10-12:50 p.m. April 25, May 2, May 9, May 16 University Capital Centre (April 25 at UCC 2840 and May 2, 9, and 16 at Executive Board Room)

Section 3: Healthcare Support Human Services Building (HSSB), Thursdays, 12:10-12:50 p.m. April 26, May 3, May 10, May 17

A Massage Oasis: Relax. Rejuvenate. Renew.

massage oasisUIHC: Chair Massages are available from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Friday at the Fountain Lobby, 1st Floor and from 10:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday at Elevator L, 2nd Floor, PFP.

CRWC: Chair massages are available on a drop-in basis between 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and cost $1/minute. 30, 60 and 90-minute table massages can be scheduled between 9:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Call 353-2973 for more information.

Caring for an Elderly Relative

caring for elderlyAre you caring for an elderly relative? Do you or someone you work with anticipate taking on caregiving responsibilities in the near future?

UI employees are eligible for free, on-campus appointments with a Geriatric Case Manager to answer questions and provide information about resources available for elder caregivers. April appointment times are available for:

  • Wednesday, April 11, from 1-5 PM at UIHC
  • Wednesday, April 18, from 1-3 PM at USB

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 335-1371 with any questions and/or to schedule an appointment.

 View PDF

April 2018 Wellness Updates


Iowa Lions Eye Bank | Update

Submitted by Ashley Dockendorf-

Join ILEB in supporting “Blue and Green Day” in 3 easy steps:

1. Wear Blue and Green on Friday, April 13th

2. Snap a photo to share on social media

3. Tag your photo using @IowaLionsEyeBank and #BlueAndGreen4ILEB

Donate Life Blue and Green Day

ILEB had some very special visitors on Thursday, April 5th!

Monica Freiburger, Donor Eligibility Manager brought Hayes Evelyn to the office to meet her ILEB family. Hayes was born on February 1st, joining big sister Hadley and proud parents Dan and Monica! Congratulations to the Freiburger family on their newest bundle of joy!

Monica Hayes


Joseph Carlson and his mom, Andrea also stopped by for a visit! Tomorrow, April 7th is the third anniversary of Joseph’s first corneal transplant at UIHC. Joseph is doing great and will be competing as the youngest member of Team Iowa in the 2018 Donate Life Transplant Games of America in Salt Lake City, Utah this August.  As a member of Team Iowa, each competitor is responsible for fundraising a minimum of $500. Funds raised support the entire team’s participation in the Transplant Games. Several members of the ILEB staff purchased fundraising t-shirts to support Joseph and his family in their fundraising efforts. Joseph and Andrea were kind enough to hand deliver these shirts to our office!

Joseph and Andrea

Joseph loved his tour the ILEB lab with Donor Eligibility Specialists Kay Jandik and Scott Van Oss.

Joseph and Andrea

He also enjoyed being able to watch all of the construction equipment from the third-floor windows of our building!

Celebrating National Doctors' Day

To our doctors-

For providing outstanding care for our patients, conducting leading-edge, collaborative research, and educating the next generation of ophthalmologists and vision science researchers, we thank you! Happy National Doctors' Day!

National Doctors Day

Thank you to Drs. Greiner, Drack, Syed, Bettis, Shahid, and Kemp for taking part in this short film!

Larson receives AAPOS Honor Award

Submitted by Vikki Bell-

Dr. Scott Larson received the Honor Award for all his hard work with the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) this year. Congratulations, Dr. Larson!

Larson AAPOS Award

Welcome, Harrison!

Submitted by Vikki Bell-

Welcome, Harrison Alcide McVeigh, born March 23, 2018, 9 lb 7 oz. Congratulations, Tara and Patrick!

Harrison Alcide McVeigh

April Promotion of Botox

Submitted by Joe Schmidt-

Our department is participating in a UIHC promotion and awareness campaign for Botox during the month of April.  Below is a copy of the promotional ad that will be displayed on monitors.

Please share with our Oculoplastics clinic staff and Scheduling teams who might need to know about this special promotion or could be asked by patients.

April Botox Promotion

Iowa Lions Eye Bank | Update

Submitted by Ashley Dockendorf-

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics will be celebrating Donate Life Month with a ceremony on April 19th at 1:00 pm in the Clasen Board Room. All are welcome to attend!

Donate Life Month


About The Update

The Ophthalmology Update is a newsletter for employees of the Department of Ophthalmology. Editor & staff writer: Kelsey Hunold (7-8001) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; staff writers: Trish Duffel This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Joe Schmidt This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; copy editor: Peg Harris; Department Head: Keith D. Carter, MD.