LAU Medical Center - Rizk Hospital


The Ophthalmology department at the Lebanese American University Medical Center-Rizk Hospital (LAU Medical Center-Rizk Hospital) has a rich history. It was one of the leading eye departments, if not the leading eye department, in the country including leading figures in ophthalmology among its physician members. Over the past years it has experienced some challenges and more recently, under the leadership of the new Dean of the School of Medicine and the new hospital administration, a plan for it to resume its historic leadership value, and even improve on it, has been put forth.

Department Chair, team and structure
The new department chair is Dr. Nicola Ghazi, a nationally and internationally recognized ophthalmologist and retina surgeon who trained in the USA where he obtained the American Board of Ophthalmology certification, and practiced there for several years before joining one of the largest eye hospitals in the world, the King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital in Saudi Arabia, and then the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Dr. Ghazi joined the LAU Medical Center-Rizk Hospital faculty in January 2018 with a mission of building on the history of the department and the achievements of his predecessors. The plan for space and equipment renovation, as well as expert personnel recruitment is under way, with a target and vision of building a leading multi-specialty ophthalmology department, both nationally and internationally. The core value for the success of this mission is excellence in patient-centered care.
Currently the ophthalmology team consists of optometrists, orthoptists, nurses and administrative assistants as well as sub-specialists in the fields of pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus, glaucoma, cornea and anterior segment, retinal diseases and surgery, ocular oncology, ophthalmic plastic surgery, ocular inflammatory diseases, and neuroophthalmology. The sub-specialists are experts in their fields and offer world class care for their patients. The team works as a single unit whereby expertise from various team members are solicited when needed to deliver the best expert care that our patients deserve.
In addition, being part of a university hospital, our department has an active residency training program whereby new physicians are being prepared to become our future eye doctors. Residents are our ambassadors to other areas of the country and the world. We take pride in the quality of training we deliver to our residents and we feel privileged to be taking part in building the future of our country.

Through the expertise of its team members, the ophthalmology department at the LAU Medical Center-Rizk Hospital offers patients services for all eye conditions including, but not limited to, retinal diseases such as age related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vascular diseases, retinal detachment, eye trauma, hereditary retinal diseases and eye tumors and cancers; anterior segment diseases such as cataract and diseases requiring corneal transplantation; glaucoma requiring laser and surgical interventions including congenital glaucoma; pediatric diseases such as treatment of eye deviations, congenital/pediatric cataracts and inherited eye diseases; ophthalmic plastic surgery such as cosmetic and therapeutic interventions for the eyelids, eyebrows and orbital diseases; neurophthalmological diseases such as inflammatory and ischemic diseases of the optic nerve and brain (multiple sclerosis and strokes for example), unexplained vision and visual field loss, thyroid eye disease, and optic nerve and orbital tumors; and inflammatory conditions that affect the eye such as uveitis, scleritis and inflammation associated with systemic rheumatologic diseases.

Ophthalmology is a diverse medical specialty consisting of many sub-specialties as elaborated above. There are currently up to 12 sub-specialties in the field of ophthalmology. It is now well recognized worldwide that it is not possible for a single ophthalmologist to be an expert in all diseases of the eye. Therefore, the ideal practice model is a sub-specialty model where ophthalmologists sub-specialized in the various sub-specialties work together and collaborate to deliver the best care possible for patients. This is the current successful model practiced in university settings in leading countries in the world, especially in the USA. This is the model that our department follows.
What makes our department different from many other ophthalmic practices in the country is that it is a multispecialty practice whereby all subspecialties are represented by physicians who are either American trained and American Board certified in ophthalmology, or have an equivalent world recognized board certification, and/or fellowship trained in a specific area in ophthalmology. Each ophthalmologist in the department has extensive specific expertise in one of the subspecialties of ophthalmology, in addition to expertise in general ophthalmic conditions. This allows for exchange of ideas, case discussions, and patient referrals among colleagues to guarantee that a particular patient receives the best care possible from experts in the field. This can prove very rewarding to patients and their families especially in rare or complicated eye conditions that may require unusual management or surgical procedures.

Part of the near future plan is to implement a diabetic retinopathy screening program that utilizes a cutting edge wide-field imaging technology that allows almost full visualization of the retina without having to dilate the patient’s pupils. This screening model has been studied under research programs and has been implemented in clinical practice by some of our retina specialists in their previous hospitals outside the country, and found to be superior to prior and more traditional techniques of screening. This will be soon available for all the diabetic patients that come to any department of LAU Medical Center-Rizk Hospital in order to catch any retinal changes early on in the disease process, which in turn will allow for timely intervention to prevent blindness from diabetes. Such a program would be the only one of its kind existing in the country.

Under the leadership of the new hospital administration and the new Dean of the School of Medicine, a plan for the ophthalmology department to resume its historic leadership role in the country, and even improve on it, is under way. The plan is for space and equipment renovation, as well as expert personnel recruitment, with a target and vision of expansion and building a leading multi-specialty ophthalmology department, both nationally and internationally. The core value for the success of this mission is excellence in patient-centered care. Our hope is that in the very near future, any patient can have any kind of ophthalmic evaluation and treatment done here at our department using cutting edge technology, no matter how complicated the medical condition is.

In addition, a comprehensive plan for ideal medical education and ophthalmology residency training will be implemented with the goal of graduating capable and skillful young physicians that will best serve the future of our country.
Finally, medical research will be developed, emphasized and encouraged so we can be not only on the receiving end of the medical field, but also on the contributing front. The target is to test new theories and to pioneer and develop new approaches and technologies for diagnosis and treatment of ophthalmic conditions.

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