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Outstanding Female Leader in Ophthalmology | July/Aug '17

Outstanding Female Leader in Ophthalmology: Marian Macsai, MD

Dr. Macsai is the Chief of the Division of Ophthalmology at the NorthShore University Health System and a Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at the Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, in Glenview, Illinois.

Please share with us your background.

I went to medical school at Rush University in my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. I completed my residency at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, also in Chicago, and then did my fellowship at the University of Iowa under Jay Krachmer, MD. After fellowship, I was recruited to join West Virginia University, where I was the director of the cornea service from 1989 to 1999. In 1999, I returned home to Chicago to start a division of ophthalmology at NorthShore University Health System, which is currently a teaching affiliate of the University of Chicago. I am now Chief of the Division of Ophthalmology at the NorthShore University Health System, a Professor of Ophthalmology at the Pritzker School of Medicine, and a cornea and external disease specialist.

What is the focus of your current research?

I have been participating in a number of clinical trials sponsored by industry. I am also involved in a new investigator-sponsored trial designed to study the use of rho kinase inhibitors in Descemet stripping without endothelial keratoplasty in patients with Fuchs dystrophy.

What has your experience been collaborating with industry?

Collaborating with industry is a great opportunity for physicians to expand and contribute to the field. Sometimes we can do this individually, but other times we need the help of industry. It is important to keep that two-way communication between physicians and industry members.

In your opinion, how is the role of women in ophthalmology evolving?

In ophthalmology, the role of women is evolving beautifully. I am happy to say that nearly 50% of all residents today are women. Our impact in the field is tremendous. In my opinion, women in ophthalmology have done a great job of cracking the glass ceiling. Bonnie Henderson, MD, is now President of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS). I am President of the Cornea Society. Over the past 20 years, women have been able to advance the field in ways that were once too difficult for our predecessors. Luckily, we have had very strong female leaders in ophthalmology who helped paved the way for us.

What, if any, hurdles do you feel women in health care still face?

Women still face many hurdles, including income inequality, child-rearing challenges, and maternity leave issues. I wish I could say that we are considered perfectly equal to men, but I do not think we are there yet. I am hopeful we will get there; however, it will take time.

What advice can you offer to young female ophthalmologists who are still in training or just beginning their careers?

Make sure you love your job and love to do what you do every day. Take advantage of paternity leave. Use your vacation days for school holidays, particularly those that are not federal holidays, such as in-service days, to be home with your children when they are off from school. Get help when you need it. Overall, just do a great job. This may be biased, but I find female physicians to be very compassionate. The role of caregiver may come more naturally for women, and they should capitalize on that. It makes for excellent doctor-patient relationships.

Can you propose a unique or creative idea that may help women in ophthalmic practices?

It is particularly challenging for women because, when we finish residency, our biological clocks are ticking and naturally many of us want to start a family—but we also want to build our careers. Women are required to invest certain years of our lives in this field, and it does pose additional challenges. One way to facilitate this is through job sharing. It is especially helpful if there are two or more young physicians in a practice who can share duties.

On a different note, I always aim to remember how anxious patients are about eye surgery. If you take a few extra minutes to call each patient the evening after his or her surgery to check in, that phone call goes a long way. You can also enable patients to email you through your electronic medical record system. Opening these lines of communication to patients (within limits) shows patients how much you truly care.



  • Macsai MS, Rohr A. Surgical management of superficial corneal and conjunctival disease. In: Holland EJ, Mannis MJ, eds. Cornea. Elsevier; 2017.
  • Macsai MS, Mojica G. Medical management of ocular surface disease. In: Holland EJ, Mannis MJ, Lee WB, eds. Ocular Surface Disease. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013.
  • Macsai MS. Surgical reconstruction of the anterior segment after ocular trauma. In: Krachmer J, Holland E, Mannis M, eds. Cornea. Chicago, IL: Mosby-Year Book; 2011.
  • Macsai MS, Fontes BM. Segmento anterior. Diagnostico Rapido em Oftalmologia. Di Livros Editora; 2010.
  • Macsai MS. Tips, insights, and techniques from other surgeons. In: Price FW, Price MO, eds. DSEK What You Need to Know About Endothelial Keratoplasty. Thorofare, NJ: Slack; 2009.
  • Macsai MS. Principles and basic techniques in ocular microsurgery. Clinical Ophthalmology. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott; 2010.
  • Kara-Jose AC, Macsai MS. Iris reconstructive and restorative procedures. In: Brightbill, ed. Corneal Surgery. Maryland Heights, MO: Mosby Elsevier; 2009.
  • Macsai MS, Fontes BM. Anterior segment. Rapid Diagnosis in Ophthalmology. Maryland Heights, MO: Mosby Elsevier; 2008.
  • Macsai MS. Nidek excimer laser corneal surgery system. In: Feder R, Rapuano C, eds. The LASIK Handbook: A Case-Based Approach. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkin; 2007.
  • Macsai MS. Ophthalmic Microsurgical Suturing Techniques. Germany: Springer-Verlag; 2007.
  • Macsai MS. Presbyopic IOLs and intraoperative pupil dilatation, lecture - accommodating IOLs. Audio-Digest Ophthalmology. 2005.
  • Macsai MS. Surgical reconstruction of the anterior segment after ocular trauma. In: Krachmer J, Holland E, Mannis M, eds. Cornea. Chicago, IL: Mosby-Year Book; 2004.
  • Macsai MS, Mannis MJ. Alternatives surgical techniques for the management of corneal stem cell dysfunction. Ocular Surface Disease. Chicago, IL: Mosby-Year Book; 2002.
  • Macsai MS, Yang J, Jensen A. Principles and basic techniques in ocular microsurgery. Clinical Ophthalmology. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott; 2001.
  • Macsai MS. Iris surgery. Corneal Surgery: Theory, Technique & Tissue. 3rd ed. Chicago, IL: Mosby-Year Book; 1999.
  • Macsai MS. Management of perforations, lacerations, and penetrating ocular injuries. In: Lindquist T, Lindstrom R, eds. Ophthalmic Surgery. Chicago, IL: Mosby-Year Book; 1997.
  • Macsai MS. Surgical management of anterior segment trauma. In: Krachmer J, Holland E, Mannis M, eds. Cornea. Chicago, IL: Mosby-Year Book; 1997.
  • Mannis MJ, Macsai MS, Huntley AC. Eye and Skin Disease. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott-Raven; 1996.
  • Macsai MS. Tyrosinemia. In: Mannis MJ, Macsai MS, Huntley AJ, eds. Eye and Skin Disease. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott-Raven; 1996.
  • Macsai MS, Mannis MJ, Huntley AJ. Acne rosacea. In: Mannis MJ, Macsai MS, Huntley AJ, eds. Eye and Skin Disease. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott-Raven; 1996.
  • Macsai MS. Corneal surgery. In: Charlton J, Weinstein GO, eds. Ophthalmic Surgery Complications: Prevention and Management. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott; 1995.
  • Macsai MS. Principles and basic techniques in ocular microsurgery. Clinical Ophthalmology. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott; 1993.

Peer-Reviewed Literature

  • Dubord PJ, Evans GD, Macsai MS, et al. Eye banking and corneal transplantation communicable adverse incidents: current status and project NOTIFY. Cornea. 2013;32(8):1155-1166, 1063-1177.
  • Ciolino JB, Belin MW, Todani A, Al-Arfaj K, Rudnisky CJ; Boston Keratoprosthesis Type 1 Study Group. Retention of the Boston keratoprosthesis type 1: multicenter study results. Ophthalmology. 2013;120(6):1195-1200.
  • Nakamura H, Li FT, Foltermann MO. Individual phenotypic variances in a family with Thiel-Behnke corneal dystrophy. Cornea. 2012;(11):1217-1222.
  • Rudnisky CJ, Belin MW, Todani A, et al; Boston Type 1 Keratoprosthesis Study Group. Risk factors for the development of retroprosthetic membranes with Boston keratoprosthesis type 1: multicenter study results. Ophthalmology. 2012;119(5):951-955.
  • Mojica, G, Padnick-Silver L, Macsai MS.Incidence of presumed iatrogenic graft failure in Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty. Cornea. 2012;31(8):872-875.
  • Sugar J, Macsai MS. What causes keratoconus? Cornea. 2012;31(6):716-719.
  • Padnick-Silver L, Weinberg AB, Lafranco FP, Macsai MS. Pilot study for the detection of early exudative age-related macular degeneration with optical coherence tomography. Retina. 2012;32(6):1045-1056.
  • Odom R, Dahl M, Dover J, et al; National Rosacea Society Expert Committee on the Classification and Staging of Rosacea. Standard management options for rosacea, part 2: options according to subtype. Cutis. 2009;84(2):97-104.
  • Meghpara B, Nakamura H, Macsai MS, et al. Keratectasia after laser in situ keratomileusis. Arch Ophthalmol. 2008;126(12):1655-1663.
  • Macsai MS. The role of omega-3 dietary supplementation in blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction (an AOS thesis). Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc. 2008;106:336-356.
  • Kitzmann AS, Goins KM, Reed C, Padnick-Silver L, Macsai MS, Sutphin JE. Eye bank survey of surgeons using precut donor tissue for Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty. Cornea. 2008;27(6):634-663.
  • Macsai MS, Fontes BM. Refractive enhancement following presbyopia correcting IOL implantation. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2008;19(1):18-21.
  • Macsai MS, Kara-Jose AC. Suture technique for Descemet stripping and endothelial keratoplasty. Cornea. 2007; 26(9):1123-1126.
  • Fontes BM, Macsai MS. O que esperar das novas lentes intraoculares. Vision Pan-America. 2006;5(3):4-5.
  • Fontes BM, Macsai MS. Corneal ectasia after scleral buckling surgery. Cornea. 2006;25(10):1257-1259.
  • Macsai MS, Padnick-Silver L, Fontes BM. Visual outcomes after accommodating intraocular lens implantation. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2006;32(4):628-633.
  • Macsai MS. Corneal ulcers in two children wearing Paragon corneal refractive therapy (CRT) lenses. Eye Contact Lens. 2005;31(1):9-11.
  • Sorour HM, Yee SB, Peterson NJ, et al. Recurrence of chromosome 10 Thiel-Behnke corneal dystrophy (CDB2) after excimer laser phototherapeutic keratectomy or penetrating keratoplasty.Cornea. 2005;24(1):45-50.
  • Macsai MS, Beck A, Ravage Z. The effect of expanding the treatment zone of the Nidek EC-500 on LASIK outcomes. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2004;30(11):2336-2343.
  • Ravage ZB, Beck AP, Macsai MS, Ching SS. Ocular rosacea can mimic trachoma: a case of cicatrizing conjunctivitis. Cornea. 2004;23(6)630-631.
  • Macsai MS, Basti S. Ocular surface squamous neoplasia: a review. Cornea. 2003;22(7)687-704.
  • Macsai MS, Beck A, Ravage Z. Peripheral ulcerative keratitis in eosinophilic pneumonia. Am J Ophthalmol. 2002;23(4) 623-627.
  • Macsai MS, Schwartz TS, Hinkle D, Hummel MB, Mulhern MD, Rootman D. Tyrosinemia type II: a report of nine cases. Am J Ophthalmology. 2001;13(4)522-527.
  • Macsai MS. The management of corneal trauma: advances in the past twenty-five years. Cornea. 2000;19(5):617-624.
  • Beck RW, Gal RL, Mannis MJ, et al. Is donor age an important determinant of graft survival? Cornea. 2000;19(3):412.
  • Macsai MS, Lemley HL, Schwartz T. Management of oculus fragilis in Ehlers-Danlos type VI. Cornea. 2000;19(1)104-107.
  • Johansen TJ, Mannis MJ, Macsai MS, Marsh PB. Obesity as a factor in penetrating keratoplasty. Cornea. 1999;18(1)12-18.
  • Macsai MS, Lemley H, Mannis M. Management of oculus Fragilis in Ehlers-Danlos, type VI. Cornea. 1999;18(2):54-56.
  • Macsai MS, Gainer K, Chisholm L. Repair of Descemet’s membrane detachments with perfluropropane (C3F8). Cornea. 1998;17(2):129-134.
  • Macsai MS, Agarwal S. Staphylococcal endophthalmitis following cataract extraction in a patient with Darier’s disease. Cornea. 1998;17(3):335-337.
  • Macsai MS, Agarwal S, Gamponia, E. Bilateral corneal ulcers in primary Vitamin A deficiency. Cornea. 1998;17(2):227-229.
  • Macsai MS, Maguen E, Nucci P. Keratoconus and Turner’s Syndrome. Cornea. 1997;16:534-536.
  • Meisler DM, Chern KC, Wilson SW, Macsai MS, Krasney R. Small-round diameter eccentric penetrating keratoplasties and corneal topographic correlation. Ophthalmology. 1997;104(4);643-647.
  • Macsai MS, Norris SJ. OptiSol corneal storage medium and transmission of treponema pallidum. Cornea. 1995;14(6):595-600.
  • Macsai MS, Doshi H. Superficial corneal opacities in X-linked ichthyosis: a clinicopathologic correlation. Am J Ophthalmol. 1994;118:477-484.
  • Macsai MS, Goel A, Michael M, Wall GM, Sternitzke K, Abshire R. Deposition of ciprofloxacin, prednisolone phosphate, and prednisolone acetate in Sequence disposable contact lenses. CLAO J. 1993;19(3);166-168.
  • Benson WH, Macsai MS, Snyder IR, Granus V. Tetanus prophylaxis following ocular injuries. J Emerg Med. 1993;11(6).
  • Macsai MS. Refractive keratotomy for myopia and astigmatism (book review). Am J Ophthalmol. 1992;114:110.
  • Macsai MS. Total detachment of Descemet’s membrane after single stitch cataract extraction. Am J Ophthalmol. 1992;114:365-366.
  • Corrent G, Rendon M, Macsai MS. Metabolic disease. Dermatologic Clinics. 1992;10(4):717-739.
  • Macsai MS, Fakadej A, Voder R, DiBartolomeo A. The use of low dose methotrexate in inflammatory eye disease. Ophthalmology. 1991;34:456.
  • Alward WL, Krachmer JH, Macsai MS. Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita with Peter’s anomaly. Ped Ophthalmol Strabismus. 1990;27:329.
  • Macsai MS, Varley GA, Krachmer JH. Development of keratoconus after contact lens wear: patient characteristics. Arch Ophthalmol. 1990;108:534-538.
  • Varley GA, Macsai MS, Krachmer JH. The results of penetrating keratoplasty for pellucid marginal corneal degeneration. Am J Ophthalmol. 1990;110:149-152.
  • Macsai MS, Robin JB, Kuszak JR. Scanning electron microscopic evaluation of the effects of intracameral injection of cyanoacrylate in the rabbit. Refract Corneal Surg. 1990;6:193-196.
  • Lass JH, Musch DC, Macsai MS, et al. Epidermal growth factor and insulin use in corneal preservation: results of a multi-center trial. Refract Corneal Surg. 1990;6:92-98.
  • Macsai MS, Hillman D, Robin JB. Branhamella catarrhalis keratitis: a case report. Arch Ophthalmol. 1988;106;1506-1507.
  • Kuszak JR, Ennesser CA, Umlas J, Macsai MS, Weinstein RS. The ultrastructure of fiber cells in primate lenses: a model of studying membrane senescence. J Ultrastruct Mol Struct Res. 1988;100:60-74.
  • Kuszak JR, Imherr McMannis S, Jones LS, Bertram BA, Macsai MS. Cell-to-cell fusion in crystalline lenses: a review. Scan Electron Microsc. 1986.
  • Kuszak JR, Macsai MS, Bloom K, Rae JL, Weinstein RS: Cell-to-cell fusion of lens fiber cells in situ: correlative light, scanning electron microscopic and freeze fracture evidence. J Ultrastruct Mol Struct Res. 1985;93:144-160.
  • Kuszak JR, Bertram BA, Macsai MS, Rae JL. Sutures of the crystalline lens: a review. Scan Electron Microsc. 1984;3:1369-1878.
  • Kuszak JR, Macsai MS, Rae JL. Stereo scanning electron microscopy of the crystalline lens. Scan Electron Microsc. 1983;3:1415-1426.
  • Freter R, Allweiss B, O’Brien PCM, Halstead SA, Macsai MS. Role of chemotaxis in the association of motile bacteria with intestinal mucosa: in vitro studies. Infect Immun. 1981;34:241-249.
  • Freter R, O’Brien PCM, Macsai MS. Role of chemotaxis in the association of motile bacteria with intestinal mucosa: in vivo studies. Infect Immun. 1981;34:234-240.
  • Gotoff SP, Paperniak C, Kretschmer RR, Macsai MS, Vogel LC, Boyer KM. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for type-specific group B Streptococcal antibody. Curr Chemo Infect Dis. 1980;2.
  • Freter R, O’Brien PCM, Macsai MS. Effect of Chemotaxis on the Interaction of Cholera Vibrios With the Intestinal Mucosa. Am J Clin Nutr. 1979;32:128-134.


  • American Ophthalmological Society
  • American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • Eye Bank Association of America
  • International Ocular Surface society
  • Illinois Association of Ophthalmology
  • Chicago Ophthalmologic Society
  • Iowa Eye Association
  • International Society of Refractive Surgery
  • Cornea and External Disease Academic Society
  • Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
  • Joint Commission of Allied Health Professionals in Ophthalmology (Continuing Education Faculty)
  • Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists
  • Women in Ophthalmology
  • National Rosacea Society
  • Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology
  • Paton Society
  • The Cornea Society (Regular Member)
  • Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation
  • American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery


  • Gift of Sight Honoree, Eversight | 2016
  • Distinguished Contributions in Medicine Award, NorthShore University HealthSystem Medical Group | 2012
  • Distinguished Speaker Award, UC Davis | 2012
  • Teacher of the Year, University of Chicago, Division of Ophthalmology | 2011
  • American Ophthalmic Society Membership (Thesis Required) | 2008
  • Outstanding Teacher Award, Department of Ophthalmology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine | 2007
  • Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Academic Achievement Award | 2001-2007
  • Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Medical Group, Patient Loyalty, Top Scoring Physician Award | 2006
  • American Academy of Ophthalmology, Senior Achievement Award | 2005
  • Distinguished Speaker Award, UC Davis | 2005
  • James E. McDonald, MD Keynote Lecturer Award, Loyola University, Chicago | 2004
  • Paton Award, Eye Bank Association of America | 2003
  • Lifelong Education for the Ophthalmologist, Continuing Education Award, American Academy of Ophthalmology | 2003
  • Honorary Member, International Ocular Surface Society | 2002
  • Top Doctor, selected by Chicago Magazine | 2001-2008
  • Distinguished Service Award, US Food and Drug Administration | 2000
  • Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness Award of Excellence | 1999
  • Honor Award, American Academy of Ophthalmology | 1996
  • The Best Doctors in America: Midwest Region | 1994-Present
  • Outstanding Teacher Award, West Virginia University, Department of Ophthalmology | 1994
  • P.J. Leinfelder Award, Outstanding Fellow Research Project, University of Iowa | 1989
  • Upjohn Achievement Award, Rush Medical College | 1984
  • Sir William Osler Pathology Award, Rush Medical College | 1984
  • Alpha Omega Alpha | 1983