Seenu M. Hariprasad, MD

Donor Stories

Grateful Patients Contribute to Retina Fellowship

When John Snyder first noticed something amiss with his left eye, he quickly sought medical care knowing far too well the consequences of ignoring the problem. "My father started with not being able to read, and since he was a lawyer, books were his life,” says Snyder. “He eventually had to use a magnifying glass and was hardly able to see the television. It affected his mental outlook, and he declined very rapidly."

Like his father, Snyder suffered from age-related macular degeneration, a common eye condition among people age 50 and older that when left untreated can lead to blindness. It is also the leading cause of vision loss in elderly adults.

After being referred to a doctor, Snyder, a University of Chicago Medicine Visiting Committee member, sought out a second opinion with surgical retina specialist Seenu M. Hariprasad, MD, associate professor of surgery in the Section of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at the University of Chicago.

“Today I have 20/20 vision with my glasses, and my left eye now actually has better vision than my right eye,” says Snyder. “Dr. Hariprasad is really impressive. Not only because he’s a great doctor, but he’s also a very kind and caring individual.”

patient sets stage for philanthropy 
Because of the care he received, Snyder contributed $25,000 to support Hariprasad’s highly specialized Fellowship in the Diseases and Surgery of the Retina, Macula, and Vitreous, through which Hariprasad has trained eight retina fellows so far.

“He really set the stage for philanthropy in my practice,” Hariprasad says of Snyder. “Since Snyder’s generous contribution, the number of grateful individuals who have come forward to support our research and training programs has been remarkable.”

Hariprasad recently started a clinical trial at the University of Chicago looking at combination therapy to treat advanced macular degeneration, which will include patients like Snyder.

“It’s no secret we deal with patients who have complex issues,” says Hariprasad, who specializes in diabetic eye diseases, retinal vein occlusions, intraocular infections, and age-related macular degeneration. “By the year 2020, the number of patients who go blind each year will double due to age-related diseases; there are not enough vitreoretinal specialists to treat them. People who donate to us are really training the future of this field.”

pursuing passion envisioned in high school
That field was something Hariprasad knew he would enter when he was just an 11th grader in a small town in western New York. By the time he completed medical school, the now 39-year-old had already published more than 50 research papers about the retina and is now beginning to write, as chief editor, a textbook on retinal vein occlusions.

“Something about the sensory system just fascinated me,” he says. “Things really took off when I joined Washington University for my two-year surgical retina fellowship. We dealt with the worst of the worst cases and that set the stage for where I’m at right now.”

For Richard Hill, a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels law firm in South Bend, Indiana, Hariprasad’s timing couldn’t be better. When Hill’s right eye continued to deteriorate from retinal detachment after he experienced two failed eye surgeries, he turned to Hariprasad.

“He was very direct,” says Hill. “I remember the moment he touched my arm, looked at me and said, ‘I can fix this.’”

Hill, who relies on his vision for both his profession and for his passion for boating, however, is now able to function without limitations.

“I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Dr. Hariprasad, not only for his surgical proficiency and skill in training fellows, but also for the caring approach he extends to his patients,” adds Hill. “I’m looking forward to a great sailing season on Lake Michigan. I really missed that last year.”