5Q With Rishi Singh, MD


What was your childhood dream job, and what made it appealing to you?

I wanted to be a bass guitarist. I think it was partially because movies back in the 1980s and ‘90s glorified the people who travel in bands—what they did, the cities they got to see, and the experiences they had.

I’m trying to relive that now. I’ve been taking guitar lessons for about 3 years. I’m never going to be able to join a band at the pace I’m learning, but I really enjoy using a different part of my brain and trying to do something different compared with retina surgery and clinical research.

What has surprised you about working in the retina subspecialty?

I wasn’t really aware of the depth and breadth of innovation that we needed in ophthalmology. One of the things that initially attracted me to this field was the incredible amount of research that was possible. I’ve dedicated my work here at Cole Eye not only to great patient care but also to working on large data projects, creating decision support tools to help our doctors, and working on artificial intelligence and machine learning platforms.

I’ve been able to contribute a lot of research to the field, and, hopefully, I’ve made some major contributions to our understanding of disease states and pathogeneses and will be able to continue to do so during my tenure.

Working with fellows can be a two-way street. What is something you’ve learned in your time training young retina specialists?

I look at my fellows as huge resources. I rely on them to come back and show me things that other practices, other doctors, and other institutions are doing. Maybe they’ve heard about something through social media or another source that could be a better way. I try to take those things into consideration because they have some really great ideas. The last thing you want to do in this field is stop evolving, and my fellows have been instrumental in keeping me pushing forward. I never want to be the old guy in the back of the room who doesn’t think much of the new techniques.

Tell us about your goals for the Retina World Congress (RWC) as you continue your work with the organization.

The RWC was an event that was conceived of as a United Nations of Retina. It was meant to educate retinal physicians from many different countries at the same time and allow them to present their groundbreaking work. As someone who is fortunate enough to travel to other countries for meetings, some of the work they are doing in Europe, Southeast Asia, and South America is truly ahead of the times. They often have access to drugs or devices that we don’t have in the United States, so there is a lot to be gained by attending those meetings.

The goal of the RWC was to unite international retina societies. About 40 retina societies have now joined this initiative and helped to plan the program, submitting delegates and participating in the meeting. It’s a place where everyone can come and learn from international experts in the field. Our next meeting is set for March 21, 2019, and we’re expecting about 1,500 attendees. You can track our progress at www.retinaworldcongress.org.

What is your favorite junk food?

It would have to be Cheetos, but I’ve sworn those off. I haven’t had them in almost 2 years. They would be my vice.

• Staff Physician and Medical Director, Clinical Systems Office, Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation; Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Case Western Reserve University; both in Cleveland, Ohio; President, Retina World Congress
• Financial disclosure: Researcher (Alcon, Apellis, Genentech, Regeneron); Consultant (Allergan, Genentech, Optos, Regeneron, Shire, Zeiss)


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About Retina Today

Retina Today is a publication that delivers the latest research and clinical developments from areas such as medical retina, retinal surgery, vitreous, diabetes, retinal imaging, posterior segment oncology and ocular trauma. Each issue provides insight from well-respected specialists on cutting-edge therapies and surgical techniques that are currently in use and on the horizon.