Get To Know LASIK Specialist Dr. Neda Shamie

Neda Shamie, MD is a renowned LASIK, cataract, and corneal surgeon and partner of the Maloney-Shamie Vision Institute in Los Angeles. She specializes in advanced vision correction surgery including LASIK, PRK, ICLs, refractive lens exchange, and advanced lens laser cataract surgery. She also is an expert in complex corneal transplant surgeries including DMEK, DSEK, DALK, and PKP as well as the breakthrough, non-invasive keratoconus treatment, Collagen Cross-Linking. Haute Beauty talked to Dr. Shamie about her greatest achievement, what she's most excited about and her most memorable patient reaction.

Photo Credit: Dr. Neda Shamie

My greatest achievement….

As a mom to two confident, hard-working, accomplished and kind teen girls, most would expect for me to say that my greatest achievement in life has been motherhood. Well, that is only half true! I can honestly admit that my greatest achievement has been balancing motherhood and a career with genuine love and joy towards both. I feel truly blessed knowing that I have and will continue to enthusiastically work towards creating a balance between being an involved, engaged, and loving mom while forging ahead with my career at a pace that continues to lead to great professional success without jeopardizing my personal happiness.

The future of my field is…

Given that in ophthalmology, due to the anatomic nature of the eye, we can take advantage of advanced computer imaging and technology as well as innovations in micro-instruments, the pace with which this field evolves far surpasses any other field in medicine. This fast-paced evolution with new diagnostics and surgical options right around the corner, many of which cause paradigm shifts in the way we treat pathology, creates an exciting air of anticipation for the future of ophthalmology. This is especially true for those of us involved in the process of innovation and positioned to be an early adopter of the most advanced options for our patients.

My most requested procedures are?

Maloney-Shamie Vision Institute is considered a center of excellence for laser refractive and cataract surgery. As a result, we have patients from all around the world seeking treatment to rid themselves of glasses or contacts or restore their vision due to cataracts. Laser refractive surgery (specifically LASIK) and advanced cataract surgery are the two most requested procedures I perform. But within these broad categories, I customize the approach to each patient such that the best outcome is achieved in a way that fits the individual parameters and needs of that patient. As an example, a patient may come to me seeking LASIK but their measurements may place them in a borderline safe zone for LASIK. Given that in our center we have expertise in the entire gamut of refractive surgical options (as an example, the implantable contact lens for the very high nearsighted patient), my patients can count on me to offer them the best and safest option for their specific visual needs. As for cataract patients, I offer laser and non-laser approaches to surgery as well as a full spectrum of lens options. We spend time listening to our patient’s visual needs and demands, engage in a discussion of their hopes and expectations from the cataract surgery, and evaluate the potential to maximize the outcome of the appropriate lens type. This level of thorough assessment and customized treatment plan can help guide the decision as to what type of lens implant is best suited for each patient offering the most optimized outcome possible.

What surgical advancements are you most excited about?

A new lens implant, the light adjustable lens, was recently approved by the FDA which allows the surgeon to modify the corrective power of the lens after it has been implanted. This will offer a very exciting option like no other to our patients and one that will set a new standard by which other lens technology will need to be measured. Our center was involved in the clinical studies that led to the approval of this very exciting technology and will be one of the first centers in the US to offer it to patients undergoing cataract surgery. The current approach to cataract surgery has been to remove the clouded natural lens of the eye and replace it with an artificial lens implant that has a fixed refractive power chosen based on measurements of the eye’s anatomy. The issue has been that there is room for error in the measurements, as well as the ultimate position of the lens implant in the eye, with both variables impacting the final visual outcome and the eye’s focusing power. As such, the great majority of patients who undergo cataract surgery or clear lens extraction with implantation of the currently available lens implants do not achieve 20/20 vision without the need for some form of the corrective lens after surgery. The light adjustable lens will not only allow us to fine-tune the final vision after the lens has settled in position and the true refractive measure of the eye stabilized, but it can also allow us to demonstrate various focusing powers for each patient to help them decide what vision outcome works best for their day to day life. This lens gives the surgeon and the patient the ability to optimize the outcomes after surgery and lock in the most ideal vision suited to the patient.

What are you best known for?

I am an expert LASIK, cataract and corneal surgeon. I am passionate about contributing to the evolution of my field and pushing advancements proven safe and effective forward so that patients benefit from the latest innovations. I am best known for my surgical expertise in advanced and complex cataract surgery, LASIK and managing those who are considered outliers of refractive surgery. I am also an expert in offering customized corneal transplant surgery, able to transplant microscopic layers of the cornea to treat only the diseased layer involved. I am a well-known and dedicated educator who finds great joy in sharing my knowledge with colleagues through national and international teaching forums as my hope is that every patient, whether my own or colleagues, is offered the highest level of care available.

What is your most memorable patient reaction?

As a corneal transplant specialist, I have had the privilege of taking my patients with corneal disease through their journey of vision recovery. This often requires continuity of care over months to years and usually involves more than one surgery. One such patient who traveled from overseas to see me had suffered since age 9 from keratoconus, a corneal disease that leads to progressively worsening vision over the years. When he presented to me at age 56, he was fully debilitated due to vision loss, unable to maintain a job and fully dependent on his family for all activities of daily life. I performed corneal transplants on both eyes and cared for him until his transplants were stabilized. I then performed laser cataract surgery with the implantation of a specialized lens to correct astigmatism and followed it with laser refractive surgery to fine-tune the vision further. Nothing can explain the sense of fulfillment I felt when this lovely patient of mine was able to read through his tears of joy the 20/20 line on the eye chart easily and with no help from glasses. Yes, the journey took over 18 months and required me applying all dimensions of my expertise as a cornea, cataract and LASIK surgeon, but to be able to help this patient, like so many others I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, see perfectly for the first time in decades offers me a sense of purpose for which I am truly grateful. I tell my surgical patients that they are my “babies”, that I will “mother” their vision to full recovery and that the trust they place in me will not be taken for granted.

What sets my practice apart is…

Our mission statement at the Maloney-Shamie Vision Institute starts with “We give our patients a transformative experience.” The patient and the patient’s needs are front and center in our practice. As such, we direct our purpose towards not only offering the most positive experience for our patients in their interactions with each member of our team but also the most optimized results in their surgical outcomes by utilizing the most advanced technology and customizing the treatment to their individual case. A patient who goes through our practice can be assured that we will leave no stone unturned to find the best treatment option for them and can also trust that we would not offer surgery unnecessarily. Trust and true expertise are the centerpieces of our practice and propel us to execute our purpose with excellence and offer extraordinary results to our patients.

What I love most about my profession is...

I love that as an ophthalmologist I have the ability to arrive at a diagnosis quickly using my clinical acumen as well as advanced diagnostic technology and in turn, offer treatment that is directed and effective. There is less guesswork and prolonged discovery and as such our patient discussions are often centered on hope and the likely promise of excellent outcomes. In fact, with LASIK and cataract surgery, the surgical treatments I perform most, the vision recovery is nearly immediate, and the tears of joy shed by happy patients a daily source of celebration. Additionally, I love my profession because of its rapid advances, and the application of advanced technology. As an example, Google and Apple are recent partners with companies focused on innovations in eye care and will prove to be instrumental in creating a bridge between computer technology and our field.

Describe a career-defining procedure...

When I finished my fellowship training more than 15 years ago, I made a promise to myself that I will add to my surgical armamentarium at least one new, proven safe and effective, advanced surgical technique every two years. This of course is possible in ophthalmology given the rapid innovative evolution I spoke of earlier. As such, every few years I have had “career-defining” procedures which have helped catapult me to the forefront of my field and placed me shoulder to shoulder with some of the leaders in my field I greatly admire. Very early in my career, I was involved in the studies which led to the development of “all-laser” LASIK by demonstrating the utility of laser in creating the LASIK flap. The use of the femtosecond laser to create the LASIK flap is now considered gold standard and I am proud and grateful to have had the first-hand experience in the techniques developed to improve LASIK outcomes. The different forms of endothelial keratoplasty (partial thickness corneal transplant), more specifically DSEK and DMEK, were other early career-defining procedures for me and, as I was performing them routinely, placed me among the top corneal surgeons worldwide offering the most advanced techniques when the great majority of corneal surgeons were not yet familiar with the surgical steps. The same was true when I adopted advanced technology intraocular lens implants, specifically multifocal lenses when many cataract surgeons were hesitant about the learning curve involved as well as the extra “chair time” necessary to help guide the patient through the decision process of choosing between lens options. Another period in my career, almost ten years ago, when laser cataract surgery had been just approved, I sought training in the technique, reached out to the earliest adopters for their experience, and offered this advanced technology to patients early in its offering. Collagen crosslinking to treat and halt the progressive disease of the cornea called keratoconus was approved in 2016 and based on European experience clearly proved to cause a paradigm shift in the treatment of this sight-threatening disease. I, as a cornea specialist with expertise in the treatment of keratoconus, was naturally an early adopter of collagen crosslinking and have become a vocal and passionate advocate for the procedure.   This has been another “career-defining” procedure for me. It has placed me in a position in which I am not only working to advocate for patients to receive insurance coverage for this much-needed treatment but also to spread the knowledge to colleagues about the importance of offering this treatment to their keratoconus patients. As mentioned above, I am most excited about the light adjustable lens and feel that this next chapter in my career will be defined by my involvement in bringing this new exciting technology to patients and contributing to the advances it will offer in moving our field forward.