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Outstanding Female Leader in Ophthalmology | Mar/Apr '17

Outstanding Female Leader in Ophthalmology: Denise M. Visco, MD

Denise M. Visco, MD

Denise M. Visco, MD

Dr. Visco is the Founder and Medical Director of Eyes of York in York, Pennsylvania.

Please share with us your background

I am the oldest of four children and the first physician in my family. I grew up in a lower-middle-class neighborhood in Wilmington, Delaware, and held a minimum of two jobs at a time from age 16 until medical school. I worked throughout college as a bookkeeper, pharmacy technician, secretary, and lab instructor. I graduated from Jefferson Medical College in 1991 and completed my ophthalmology residency at Penn State Hershey Medical Center in 1995. After residency, I opened my solo practice, Eyes of York, in January 1996. I subsequently expanded the practice to include a laser vision correction suite in 2000 and an onsite ophthalmic surgery center in 2005.

I was so very fortunate to marry my best friend and high school sweetheart 30 years ago. Our journey includes three children. We had our first child when I was halfway through medical school, our second child halfway through my residency, and our youngest child when I was 2 years into private practice. This summer, we will officially become empty nesters.

What is the focus of your current research?

The focus of my current research centers on refractive cataract surgery outcomes using femtosecond laser astigmatic incisions and/or marks for toric IOLs with iris registration.

What has your experience been collaborating with industry?

Collaborating with industry has been very rewarding, especially when the work is productive. I enjoy learning and discovering new ways to improve the care we deliver to patients. However, getting connected is not always the easiest path to navigate. When starting out, I found networking at the user meetings for different technologies to be extremely helpful.

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

Today I see more women practicing, teaching, and speaking than I did 20 years ago. Certainly, there has been an increase in the number of women in our specialty overall. However, we are still a minority. Years ago, I felt quite conspicuous and intimidated, but today it seems a bit easier. I enjoy sharing insights with both male and female colleagues and find there is an appreciation of every individual’s unique viewpoint. As women, we have a distinct perspective, which is a valuable competitive advantage worth leveraging.

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

The biggest hurdles women face in health care are the same as those faced by all physicians: consolidation in medicine, increased regulation, ongoing uncertainty with the Affordable Care Act, and loss of physician autonomy.

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

When I was a resident in training, I had a 4-year-old and a newborn. Although my life was stressful and crazy busy, I am so grateful that I did it my way. I recommend everyone blaze their own exceptional trails. Commit to lifelong learning. Work hard and smart to build your personal brand. Finally, don’t forget to live in the present as you look toward the future. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

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

Of all the treasures in life, the most valuable one we possess is our time; the most worthy investment of our time is in other people.


Donnenfeld E, Silverstein S, Bucci F, Visco D. Intraoperative miosis in cataract surgery. Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today. February 2017.

Visco D, McCabe C. Several options available to fix refractive misses in cataract surgery. Ocular Surgery News. November 25, 2016.

Beckman KA, Fram N, Raviv T, Visco D. Smart decisions. Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today. February 2016.

Visco DM. Refractive outcomes with a monofocal IOL and intraoperative aberrometry-guided power calculation. Poster presented at: the American Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Meeting; November 2013; New Orleans, LA.

Robin AL, Visco DM. A four week comparison of travoprost and bimatoprost in ocular hypertension and glaucoma. Abstract presented at: the XXIV Pan-American Congress of Ophthalmology; March 28-April 1, 2003; San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Visco DM, Tolpin E, Straughn JC, Fagraeus L. Arterial oxygen saturation in sedated patients undergoing gastrointestinal endoscopy and a review of pulse oximetry. Del Med J. 1989;61:10:533-542.


• Cornea, External Disease, and Refractive Surgery Society (CEDARS)/American Society of Progressive Enterprising Surgeons (ASPENS)

• American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)

• American College of Eye Surgeons (ACES)

• American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS)

• Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED)


• Premier Surgeon 300 Innovators in Refractive Cataract Surgery honoree, Ocular Surgery News | 2016

• ASCRS Invited Instructor, Femtosecond Laser Cataract Skill Transfer Lab | 2016, 2015

• Caribbean Eye Meeting Session Chair, Femtosecond Laser Cataract Surgery | 2015

• Pennsylvania’s Best 50 Women in Business honoree, Business Journals of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development | 2003

• Paul Harris Fellow, District Service Award, York, PA, Rotary Foundation of Rotary International | 2001–2002

• ACES’ Residents Video Tape Competition, First Runner-Up | 1995