This program has come a long way since the early 90's, when they were almost shut down by the Univ of Chicago. The acquisition of the Evanston hospital from Northwestern is definitely a plus for the program. Although still a division, I see this program on the way up...
U of Chicago ophtho underwent some changes last spring, the department is now quite stable. Dr. Greenwald is the acting division head and is very well liked and respected. Ophthalmology is a division of the department of surgery, which has had it's advantages (the Dept of Surgery has a lot of money). There is a new, state of the art wet lab. The U of Chicago is now academically affiliated with the former Evanston Northwestern Healthcare hospital system, now renamed North Shore University. So U Chicago residents will take over rotations at North Shore that Northwestern residents formerly staffed. Dr. Marian Macsai and North Shore is a huge plus. U of C also has a general eye clinic at Weiss Memorial Hospital on Lakeshore drive, which offers another institution and diversity. Faculty are very dedicated to resident education.
Last year's class of 3 residents: one went into private practice, one went to Moran Eye Center (University of Utah) for cornea (a top cornea dept) and another went to the Oschner Clinic (LSU) for surgical retina. The year prior to that (my memory is a bit hazy, you may want to contact the program about the 2006-07 fellowship match results) I know one resident matched at Mayo for occuloplastics, I believe another went into glaucoma at UCLA/Jules Stein, one into private practice. Of this year's seniors one is going into surgical retina, another into glaucoma and the third resident into occuloplastics - not aware of their match results yet. The consensus is that if you work hard you can get the fellowship of your choice, as with most other programs.
Also, in terms of surgical numbers I have heard the seniors this year are on track for 150 cataracts each.
Faculty are stable. There really hasn't been turnover aside from the former chairman and a glaucoma specialist (who was a former U of C grad and left b/c her group became affiliated with NU). The addition of North Shore will add additional attendings (Dr. Marian Macsai and her group). The residents told me they are happy with the dept these days and the new affilitation with North Shore. The dept of surgery is financially reimbursing the residents a lot more for their education expenses/meetings than prior and they like the new wet lab.
Retina is well covered, with Drs. Hariprasad, Jager, Green, and Grassi (medical retina) among others. I believe basic science research in retina is conducted within the dept as well. The departure of the former chairman, Dr. Mieler, was certainly a loss; however, retina exposure remains strong for the residents. There are 2 vitreoretinal fellows.
Also, in reference to the issue with glaucoma attendings, additional faculty recruitment is in the works. I would not dissuade applicants interested in pursuing glaucoma away from U of C, as a current senior resident just matched into glaucoma at Mass Eye & Ear and recent graduates have matched at Jules Stein/UCLA and Doheny. Granted, if your heart is set on glaucoma already, there are other programs with stronger glaucoma services but your fellowship opportunities will not be limited by going to the Univ of Chicago.
You can get a decent fellowship in nearly any specialty out of nearly any residency program, so if you really want to go into glaucoma or retina or whatever going to a program weak in that department isn't a dealbreaker. However, glaucoma exposure for residents right now is definitely subpar. So if you go to a fellowship you'll be fine but I'd be concerned about your comfort level with glaucoma if you just do general ophthalmology. We'll see about future faculty recruitment - I'm not convinced that this is a place that will find it easy to find high-quality faculty at this time.
I have heard bad things about retina as well (not as much as glaucoma) though I have no personal knowledge of the actual situation there in retina. I am not affiliated with U of C (though I am very familiar with people who are) so take my info however you would like. I have no particular interest in seeing the place either fail or succeed, just passing along what I know/have heard.
I did an away rotation at U Chicago and retina was a busy service, the residents got to see plenty of bread and butter as well as exotic pathology. Several residents were doing retina research, mostly clinical but one was doing basic science. Don't know anything about the situation in glaucoma.
Are there any other ophthalmology residency programs in the nation that function as a division of surgery? It has been alluded to me that the programs who have gone through this change end up being shut down in the future... Does anyone know what other programs have had this type of change and what has become of them?
All of the surgical subspecialties at U of C are sections of Surgery, including orthopedics and ENT. Ophthalmology was the most recent to make the switch. The biggest change: instead of a "chairman" there is a "section chief" - currently Dr. Mark Greenwald. The transition took place nearly one year ago and things have been stable for some time. Who are you referring to as the entity that would "shut down" the program? The U of C would suffer terrible backlash for eliminating the department and, further, this would be an extremely unprofitable and foolish move given the new affiliation with the Evanston Northwestern (NorthShore) hospital system and the revenue/patients this deal will generate. If anything, more resources are being devoted to resident education now than before with the addition of the new wet lab and the increase in funding for educational expenses/meetings. The residency program itself is fully accredited by the ABO. Your concern is understandable if you have heard of other departments who have undergone this change and then were shut down, but this is certainly not the case at U of C.