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Outstanding Female Leader in Ophthalmology | Jan/Feb '19

Outstanding Female Leader in Ophthalmology:
Zaina Al-Mohtaseb, MD

Dr. Al-Mohtaseb is an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Associate Residency Program Director at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

1. Please share with us your background.

I lived in Jordan until age 9, when my parents immigrated to Texas. I grew up in Houston, and I attended the University of Texas at Austin for my undergraduate degree (Plan II Honors program) and Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) for medical school. I lived in Washington, DC, for my internship at Georgetown University and then returned to BCM for my ophthalmology residency. During my third year, I was elected chief resident. I then went to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute for my cornea, cataract, and refractive fellowship, after which I returned to Houston to join the faculty at BCM. I am currently an assistant professor and the associate residency director at BCM. I am married to Rami Farasin (my number-one fan), and we have a 5-month-old daughter named Aya. I enjoy swimming, traveling, and spending time with my family (my parents and brother also live in Houston).

2. What is the focus of your current research?

I am heavily involved in clinical outcomes research in ocular surface disease, astigmatism, complicated cataracts, corneal surgery, and secondary IOLs. Another one of my passions is training others in surgery through research, lectures, webinars, and wet labs.

3. What has your experience been collaborating with industry?

I truly enjoy collaborating with industry, and I have recently become more involved with drug and device trials sponsored by industry. I view the physician-industry relationship as a partnership. Our collaboration is beneficial for all parties involved and can result in significant improvements to patient care.

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

The role of women in ophthalmology is becoming increasingly important. I truly appreciate the work done by the early female giants in ophthalmology at a time when it was a “man’s club.” Both medical schools and ophthalmology residencies now have a higher number of women than men. Not only are more women entering the field, but more women are also speaking on the podium, conducting research, and working with industry. It is an honor to follow in the steps of the women who paved the way, and hopefully I can make a difference for future women ophthalmologists.

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

I believe one major hurdle for women in health care is finding work-life balance, particularly when starting a family. We recently had our first child, which is so amazing, but also very difficult to balance with my career. It is a constant battle between wanting to be a great mother and wanting to excel at work—even finding time to breastfeed in between cases and in clinic has been a struggle. Luckily, I have many friends and mentors who provide excellent advice and a wonderful, supportive husband to help make it possible.

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

The best advice I can give is to establish a good network of friends and mentors in the field. These mentors will help with your career, family, and life in general. I also think it is important to figure out what you love to do and do it. Don’t do something because people think you should or because people think you are great at it. There is a limited amount of time in each day, and it is important that you spend it doing what you love and with the people you love. Also, it’s OK to make mistakes—just try to learn from them. Another thing I have noticed is that women often shy away from tooting their own horns or accepting compliments. It is good to be humble, but there is nothing wrong with knowing your worth.

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

I believe that women should support each other, so having a board that promotes other women is a great start. Providing women with a formal support system in the workplace would also be great.


1. Khan M, Manuel K, Vegas B, Yadav S, Hemmati R, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Case series: extended wear of rigid gas permeable scleral contact lenses for the treatment of persistent corneal epithelial defects. Contact Lens Anterior Eye. 2019;42(1):117-122.

2. Clarke C, Smith E, Khan M, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Social media and ophthalmology: perspectives of patients and ophthalmologists. J Med Syst. 2018;42:258.

3. Lin WV, Saumur M, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Scleritis, keratitis, and orbital cellulitis: isolated ocular manifestation of systemic lupus erythematosus. Lupus. 2018;27(12):1985-1988.

4. Chamberlain PD, Montes de Oca I, Shah R, et al. Preoperative prediction of the optimal toric intraocular lens alignment meridian. J Refract Surg. 2018;34(8):515-520.

5. Golla A, Weikert MP, Chevez-Barrior P, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Anterior segment optical coherence tomography of ocular cystinosis confirmed by electron microscopy. Ocul Oncol Pathol. 2018. doi:10.1159/000490389.

6. Patel SN, Ali SF, Clarke C, et al. Etiology and treatment outcomes of persistent postoperative inflammation in primary resident performed cataract surgeries at a large tertiary care public hospital. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2018;44(7):856-863.

7. Weng CY, Morales JF, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Bilateral crystalline lens subluxation in a child with Marfan syndrome. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2018;136(6):e180928.

8. Campagna G, Al-Mohtaseb Z, Khandelwal S, Chang E. Sequential traumatic corneal open globe rupture in a patient with osteogenesis type I. Am J Ophthalmol. 2018;11:35-36.

9. Gökce SE, Montes De Oca I, Cooke DL, Wang L, Koch DD, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Accuracy of 8 intraocular lens calculation formulas in relation to anterior chamber depth in patients with normal axial lengths. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2018;44(3):362-368.

10. Parra AS, Roth BM, Nguyen TM, Wang L, Pflugfelder SC, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Assessment of the Prosthetic Replacement of Ocular Surface Ecosystem (PROSE) scleral lens on visual acuity for corneal irregularity and ocular surface disease. Ocul Surf. 2018;16(2):254-258.

11. Khan M, Al-Mohtaseb ZN, Kim DB. Secondary IOLs in the aphakic setting. Curr Ophthalmol Rep. 2018;6:217.

12. Khan M, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Ocular surface tips for intravitreal injections. Retinal Physician. July 2018.

13. Al-Mohtaseb Z. What is the proper strategy for addressing low astigmatism at the time of cataract surgery? Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today. October 2018. 62-63.

14. Date R, Verkade A, Shaikh R, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Weikert MP. Review of ‘updated cataract surgery complexity score for trainee ophthalmic surgeons.’ EyeWorld. July 2018.

15. Campagna G, Adams M, Wang L, Khandelwal SS, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Comparison of pterygium recurrence rates among different races and ethnicities following primary pterygium excision by surgeons in training. Cornea. 2018;37(2):199-204.

16. Clarke C, Ali SF, Murri M, et al. Outcomes and complication rates of primary resident-performed cataract surgeries at a large tertiary-care county hospital. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2017;43(12):1563-1570.

17. Al-Mohtaseb Z, He X, Yesilirmak N, Waren D, Donaldson KE. Comparison of corneal endothelial cell loss between two femtosecond laser platforms and standard phacoemulsification. J Refract Surg. 2017;33(10):708-712.

18. Kim EJ, Sajjad A, Montes de Oca I, et al. Refractive outcomes after multifocal intraocular lens exchange. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2017;43(6):761-766.

19. Guimarães de Souza R, Montes de Oca I, Esquenazi I, Al-Mohtaseb Z, Weikert MP. Updates in Biometry. Int Ophthalmol Clin. 2017;57(3):115-124.

20. Date RC, Al-Mohtaseb ZN. Advances in preoperative testing for cataract surgery. Int Ophthalmol Clin. 2017;57(3):99-114.

21. Houser K, Weikert M, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Perioperative imaging in corneal surgery (intraoperative and postoperative). Int Ophthalmol Clin. 2017;57(3):87-98.

22. Al-Mohtaseb ZN, Weikert M. Preface: state of the art and beyond: anterior segment diagnostics. Int Ophthalmol Clin. 2017;57(3):vii-viii.

23. Brunin G, Sajjad A, Kim EJ, et al. Secondary intraocular lens implantation: Complication rates, visual acuity, and refractive outcomes. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2017;43(3):369-376.

24. Wang L, Jiang L, Hallahan K, Al-Mohtaseb ZN, Koch DD. Evaluation of femtosecond laser intrastromal incision location using optical coherence tomography. Ophthalmology. 2017;124(8):1120-1125.

25. Jin H, Parker WT, Law NW, et al. Evolving risk factors and antibiotic sensitivity patterns for microbial keratitis at a large county hospital. Br J Ophthalmol. 2017;101(11):1483-1487.

26. Montes de Oca I, Khandelwal SS, Kim EJ, et al. Comparing refractive outcomes of standard phacoemulsification with femtosecond laser-assisted cataract during the initial learning curve and with more experience. SM Ophthalmol J. 2017;3(1):1010.

27. Gumus K, Tung C, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Management of pterygium with coexisting cataract. In: Agarwal T, Gupta S, Sharma N, eds. Textbook of Pterygium Management. India: Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers; 2017.

28. Al-Mohtaseb Z. What is astigmatism, anyway? MillennialEYE. January/February 2017.

29. Al-Mohtaseb Z, Kang PC, Miller KM, et al. Posterior capsular trauma during vitrectomy. Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today. March 2017;17(3):24-26,28.

30. Duncan JK, Al-Mohtaseb Z, Weikert MP. Screening for corneal ectasia in the modern era. MillennialEYE. March/April 2017.

31. Al-Mohtaseb Z, Ciralsky J. From the front lines. MillennialEYE. March/April 2017.

32. Esquenazi I, Parra A, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Intraoperative wavefront aberrometry. MillennialEYE. May/June 2017.

33. Brar S, Garg SS, Ogawa GSH, Al-Mohtaseb, Z. White cataract after open globe repair in a child. Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today. July 2017;17(7):16-19.

34. Fathy C, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Corneal Disparities. MillennialEYE. July/August 2017.

35. Al-Mohtaseb Z, Ciralsky J, Miller KM, Ayres BD. Pediatric traumatic cataract. Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today. August 2017;17(8):23-25.

36. Saumur M, Al-Mohtaseb Z. A lack of capsular support. MillennialEYE. November/December 2017.

37. Ayres B, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Power modulation in complex cases. MillennialEYE. November/December 2017.

38. Al-Mohtaseb Z. Preface: controversies in cataract, refractive, and corneal surgery. Int Ophthalmol Clin. 2016;56(3).

39. Kim EJ, Brunin GM, Al-Mohtaseb ZN. Lens placement in the absence of capsular support: scleral-fixated versus iris-fixated IOL versus ACIOL. Int Ophthalmol Clin. 2016;56(3):93-106.

40. Rigi M, Al-Mohtaseb Z, Weikert MP. Astigmatism correction in cataract surgery: toric intraocular lens placement versus peripheral corneal relaxing incisions. Int Ophthalmol Clin. 2016;56(3):39-47.

41. Gokce SE, Gumus K, Garibay A, Al-Mohtaseb ZN. Cataract surgery in the setting of corneal pathology. Int Ophthalmol Clin. 2016;56(3):1-28.

42. Montes de Oca I, Kim EJ, Wang L, et al. Accuracy of toric intraocular lens axis alignment using a 3-dimensional computer-guided visualization system. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2016;42(4):550-555.

43. Liu J, Liu W, Jia Y, Al-Mohtaseb ZN, Wang L. Repositioning a decentered intraocular lens with 4 haptics. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2016;42(3):353-357.

44. Parker W, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Refractive surgery advances: tried and true vs. what’s new. MillennialEYE. March/April 2016.

45. Berg J, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Corneal relaxing incisions: PCRIs and AKs. MillennialEYE. May/June 2016.

46. Al-Mohtaseb Z, Gorovoy MS, Majmudar PA, Carlson AN. Corneal scarring since birth. Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today. September 2016;16(9):31-34.

47. Al-Mohtaseb Z. Moving from divide and conquer to phaco chop. EyeWorld. 2016;21(10):38-41.

48. Date R, Al-Mohtaseb Z. Great strides in presbyopia correction. MillennialEYE. September/October 2016.

49. Hillman L, Al-Mohtaseb Z, Berdahl J, Ciralsky J. Cataract surgery in long eyes. EyeWorld. November 2016.

50. Roth B, Al-Mohtaseb Z. The PROSE device for OSD and corneal ectasia. MillennialEYE. November/December 2016.

51. Ventura BV, Al-Mohtaseb Z, Wang L, Koch DD, Weikert MP. Repeatability and comparability of corneal power and corneal astigmatism obtained from a point-source color LED topographer, a Placido-based topographer, and a low coherence reflectometer. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2015;41(10):2242-2250.

52. Pantanelli SM, Diakonis VF, Al-Mohtaseb Z, et al. Anterior capsulotomy outcomes: a comparison between two femtosecond laser cataract surgery platforms. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2015;31(12):821-825.

53. Patel R, Al-Mohtaseb Z, Amescua G, Pantanelli S. Nocardia asteroides keratitis resistant to amikacin. Cornea. 2015;34(12):1617-1619.

54. Al-Mohtaseb Z. Influential Surgeons. MillennialEYE. March/April 2015.

55. Al-Mohtaseb Z. Update on Corneal Inlays. MillennialEYE. May/June 2015.

56. Adams M, Ali S, Brunin G, Garoon R, Al-Mohtaseb Z, Weikert M. Review of intracameral phenylephrine and ketorolac (OMS302) during cataract surgery maintains intraoperative mydriasis and reduces postoperative ocular pain integrated results from two pivotal phase 3 studies. EyeWorld. October 2015.

57. Al-Mohtaseb Z. Reporting from the 2015 Combined Ophthalmic Symposium: managing infectious keratitis. EyeWorld. October 2015.

58. Al-Mohtaseb Z, Koch D. Incisional keratotomy. In: Mannis MJ, Holland EJ, eds. Cornea. 4th ed. Elsevier; 2015.

59. Ali TK, Al-Mohtaseb ZN, Ozturk HE, et al. Anterior segment manifestations of microscopic polyangiitis. Rheumatology. 2014;S5:008.

60. Al-Mohtaseb Z, Culbertson W. Intrastromal Astigmatic keratotomy with the femtosecond laser: a nonpenetrating approach for the correction of keratometric and refractive astigmatism. Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today. March 2014.

61. Al-Mohtaseb Z, Ventura B, Wang L, Koch D. Impact of posterior corneal astigmatism on astigmatism management during cataract surgery. In: Henderson BA, Yoo SH, eds. Curbside Consultation in Refractive and Lens-Based Surgery: 49 Clinical Questions. Thorofare, NJ: Slack; 2014.

62. Al-Mohtaseb Z, Wang L, Weikert M. Repeatability and comparability of corneal thickness measurements obtained from dual Scheimpflug analyzer and from ultrasonic pachymetry. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2013;251(7):1855-1860.

63. Al-Mohtaseb Z, Dixit L, Meghpara B, Schmidt C, Weikert M. Review of ‘a correlation of visual quality with satisfaction and function in a normal cohort of pseudophakic patients.’ EyeWorld. 2013.

64. Al-Mohtaseb Z, Galor A, Perez V. Dry eyes and menopause: but don’t forget men. Ocular Surface News. 2013.

65. Al-Mohtaseb Z, Foroozan R. Congenital optic disc anomalies. Int Ophthalmol Clin. 2012;52(3):1-16.

66. Sakai Y, Shaw CA, Dawson BC, et al. Protein interactome reveals converging molecular pathways among Autism disorders. Sci Transl Med. 2011;3(86):86ra49.

67. Al-Mohtaseb Z, Seongmu L, Yen MT. Oncocytoma of the upper conjunctival fornix. Eye Reports. 2011.

68. Al-Mohtaseb Z, Heffez JL, Carvounis PE, Holz ER. Laser demarcation photocoagulation for treatment of rhegmatogenous retinal detachments. Eye (Lond). 2010;24(12):1772-1776.


  • American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) | 2010–Present
  • American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) | 2014–Present
  • Houston Ophthalmological Society | 2015–Present
  • Houston Ophthalmology Women | 2014–Present
  • Cornea Society | 2012–Present
  • CEDARS/ASPENS | 2017-Present
  • National Arab American Medical Association (NAAMA)2005–Present | Past Vice President and President (2018)


  • Baylor College of Medicine Early Career Faculty Award for Excellence in Patient Care | 2018
  • Baylor College of Medicine Norton Rose Fulbright Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching and Evaluation | 2018
  • Baylor College of Medicine Women of Excellence Award for Teaching and Clinical Excellence | 2018
  • Top Docs, Voted by Peers for Clinical Excellence | 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015
  • Baylor College of Medicine Center of Excellence Research Excellence Award Best Trainee Research Poster Award | 2018
  • Henry J.N. Taub Young Investigator Award, 2nd Place Outstanding Poster in the Clinical Sciences Category | 2017
  • Second-Place Best Video at MillennialEYE Live Meeting | 2016
  • One of 10 Best Papers at ASCRS, ISRS, Cornea, AAPOS, AGS, ASOPRS | 2015
  • ASCRS Best Paper of the Session Award | 2015
  • Stephen N. Schindler Award for High Ethical and Humane Standards | 2013
  • Kerato-refractive ASCRS Poster Winner | 2013
  • Baylor Ophthalmology Chief Resident | 2012–2013
  • Everett L. Goar Award for Best Resident Research Award, Second Place | 2012
  • Heed Foundation Scholar | 2012
  • Baylor College of Medicine Graduate with Honors | 2009
  • Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society | 2009
  • National Dean’s List and University Honors | 2000–2004
  • Steven Michael Sanders, Bettie P. Cook Endowed, Charles Paul Shearn Endowed Laurence Baker Memorial, Homer Lindsey Bruce Endowed, and Morris Endowed Scholarships for Excellent Academic Standing | 2000–2004
  • Research Fellowship Award for Excellence in Research | 2003
  • National Merit Finalist | 2000
  • President’s Leadership Award for Outstanding Student Leadership | 2000