Dr. Winges is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Neurology at Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, in Portland, Oregon. She practices neuro-ophthalmology and comprehensive ophthalmology/cataract surgery at the Veterans Administration Portland Health Care System, where she is Assistant Chief of Surgery.
1. Please share with us your background.
I was born in San Francisco and am a third-generation woman physician. My pediatrician grandmother emigrated China in 1948 with my grandfather, a diplomat to the United States, and their first-born infant (my mother). My mother eventually became a pediatric ophthalmologist at the same hospital where my grandmother was the first female and Chinese physician. I studied astrobiology at Stanford University and worked in space research at NASA, but I found my eventual professional home in medicine as well.
I was and still am absolutely fascinated by the ways that structure and function align in the eye and brain, and I was inspired into neuro-ophthalmology as a career by the people I met at my first North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society (NANOS) annual meeting in medical school. Thanks to a Howard Hughes Medical Student Fellowship between my third and fourth year at New York Medical College, I investigated oligoclonal bands in cerebrospinal fluid of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) in a true bedside-to-bench project with neuro-ophthalmologists and neuroimmunologists at the University of Colorado, where my husband was in graduate school. I learned that neuro-ophthalmology was a wide-open field with some of the best teachers and the most approachable, dedicated clinicians I’d ever encountered, many of whom are now good friends and colleagues.
After graduating New York Medical College, I completed ophthalmology residency at University of California Davis and a clinical fellowship in neuro-ophthalmology at University of Iowa. Since then, I’ve practiced as a full-time VA ophthalmologist and faculty member at Oregon Health & Science University. I teach cataract surgery and neuro-ophthalmology to medical students, residents, and fellows, and in the past few years I have become involved in hospital administration as the Assistant Chief of Surgery for our Operative Care Division.
2. What is the focus of your recent research?
My scientific background is in neuroimmunology and ocular imaging research in MS, and I still participate in these projects at my institution. However, my recent self-guided research projects have been in giant cell arteritis because I see so much of it as my hospital’s main source of labor for temporal artery biopsies. After shepherding medical students through years of research involving our institution’s experience with giant cell arteritis in veterans and comparing it to the community, I more recently started looking at the entire VA’s experience with this rare disease through a big data epidemiology project. It’s been a truly humbling first foray into the largest health care database in the country, and there is so much to learn. This will keep me busy for a while!
3. What has your experience been collaborating with industry?
As a federal employee, I’ve had to draw firm boundaries between interactions with industry within my workplace and relationships through my professional societies. I’ve served on a few medical advisory boards that have supercharged my enthusiasm, and as an executive board member of Women in Ophthalmology (WIO), I have learned much about the interplay between industry and all types of ophthalmic practices. I’m gaining more and more appreciation for the role that drug and surgical device development plays in patient care and public health, and I’ve been fortunate to exchange expertise with some wonderful new colleagues through these interactions.
4. In your opinion, how is the role of women in ophthalmology evolving?
From parental leave policies in the workplace to patients increasingly recognizing that the woman in the room might be their doctor rather than the assistant, women physicians are becoming culturally mainstream. It is surprising, therefore, that we still make up only approximately 25% of the ophthalmologist workforce, and women are underrepresented on subspecialty boards, as invited speakers, in departmental chair positions, and across senior faculty and private partnership executive positions. I have been afforded incredible professional development and leadership opportunities through women’s empowerment organizations such as WIO and the newer Women Professors of Ophthalmology (WPO, house under the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology [AUPO]); the networking strength of these organizations has provided valuable perspective on gratitude for how we have evolved as a society, as well as a collective voice to advocate for equity and opportunities.
5. What hurdles do you feel women in health care still face?
There is no one-size-fits-all formula to becoming a successful woman physician, nor what that “success” looks like for an individual. I have an internal conflict with my own feminism, because within it is the assumption that women have similar experiences because of their sex. Along the gender spectrum, colleagues who are nonbinary, transgender, or questioning are often left out of this conversation. Nevertheless, women as a group do still face misogyny, cultural expectations of motherhood and career sacrifice, and sexual harassment. Furthermore, those of different ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds may have wildly different experiences with discrimination than others. Thus, the challenge is how to address these individual nuances on a societal level. We can start by listening to each other and by teaching our colleagues skills to overcome bias and to advocate for themselves and others.
6. What advice can you offer to young female ophthalmologists who are still in training or just beginning their careers?
Don’t let anyone pigeon-hole you into a specific field or type of practice. I was originally told neuro-ophthalmology wasn’t for surgeons, and great surgeons wouldn’t be happy in a medical subspecialty. Nevertheless, I found my academic engagement in one and my flow in another, so I just went for it. Explore every style of practice you can during training to give you the best fit, and ultimately listen to your gut. Be open to who you want to work with, not just where that work is housed. I never thought I’d work at a VA hospital, yet I find myself more invested with time because it gives me the opportunity to provide unique services to a grateful patient population, offers continuous career growth in an institution with an aspirational mission, and puts me in an academic environment that I didn’t fully realize I wanted until I had it and couldn’t let it go.
7. Can you propose a unique or creative idea that may help women in ophthalmic practices?
First, I firmly believe that if you love something that is greatly needed and serves a unique purpose, you will have a fulfilling career and never be out of a job. I honestly love being needed by my colleagues for difficult cases. I take pride in taking the time to listen to patients and invest time and energy into their care, and I get positive feedback from them that fuels my day. Second, don’t underestimate the power of volunteering in ophthalmology, which connects you to a professional family with a strong sense of purpose, belonging, and contribution to the larger medical community. This service work has created fulfillment in my career beyond my expectations, and it connects me with others who can support me when I face professional challenges.
- Winges KM, Gordon LK. Neuro-ophthalmic complications of immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy: current status and future directions. Front Ophthalmol. doi:10.3389/fopht.2022.1044904. In press.
- Winges KM. Optic Disc Edema, Chapter: Pseudopapilledema. In: Friedman NJ, ed. Decision Making in Ophthalmology. Elsevier. In press.
- Winges KM. Pseudopapilledema. In: Friedman NJ, ed. Decision Making in Ophthalmology. Elsevier. In press.
- Azad AD, Chandramohan A, Li A, et al. Representation of women in ophthalmology subspecialty societies over 20 years. Ophthalmology. 2022;129(5):587-590.
- Petzold A, Albrecht P, Balcer L, et al; IMSVISUAL, ERN-EYE Consortium. Artificial intelligence extension of the OSCAR-IB criteria. Ann Clin Transl Neurol. 2021;8(7):1528-1542.
- Lai KE, Ko MW, Rucker JC, et al. Tele-neuro-ophthalmology during the age of COVID-19. J Neuro-Ophthalmol. 2020;40(3):292-304.
- Selby LS, Park-Egan BAM, Winges KM. Temporal artery biopsy in the workup of giant cell arteritis: diagnostic considerations in a Veterans Administration cohort. J Neuro-Ophthalmol. 2020;40(4):450-456.
- Winges KM, Loh A, Chiang M. Military model proposes a way forward for telehealth in ophthalmology. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2020;138(10):1061-1062.
- Winges KM, Yates B. Blepharospasm and hemifacial spasm. In: Albert D, Miller J, Azar D, Young LH, eds. Albert and Jakobiec’s Principles and Practice of Ophthalmology. Springer; 2020.
- Gehling H, Winges KM. Ophthalmic presentations of pituitary adenoma. Glaucoma Today. September/October 2020.https://glaucomatoday.com/articles/2020-sept-oct/ophthalmic-presentations-of-pituitary-adenoma
- Winges KM, Murchison CF, Bourdette DN, Spain RI. Longitudinal optical coherence tomography study of optic atrophy in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: results from a clinical trial cohort. Mult Scler. 2019;25(1):55-62.
- Winges KM. Visual disturbances in headache. Glaucoma Today. January/February 2019. https://glaucomatoday.com/articles/2020-jan-feb/visual-disturbances-in-headache
- Winges KM, Jivraj I. Topical diagnosis of visual field loss. In: Prajna NV, ed. Peyman’s Principles and Practice of Ophthalmology. Jaypee Brothers; 2018.
- Simonett JM, Winges KM. Vitreopapillary traction detected by optical coherence tomography. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2018;136(5).
- Selby LD, Stiefel HC, Skalet AH, Cardenal MS, Bhavsar KV, Winges KM. Vision loss from choroidal and pituitary metastases secondary to renal cell carcinoma: a case report. Neuroophthalmology. 2018;42(6):391-398.
- Spain R, Powers K, Murchison C, et al. Lipoic acid in secondary progressive MS: a randomized controlled pilot trial. Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 2017;4(5):e374.
- Winges KM, Werner JS, Harvey DJ, et al. Baseline retinal nerve fiber layer thickness and macular volume quantified by OCT in the North American phase 3 Fingolimod trial for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. J Neuroopthalmol. 2013;33(4):322-329.
- Kemp PS, Winges KM, Wall M. Optic neuritis. EyeRounds. September 30, 2012. www.eyerounds.org/cases/159-optic-neuritis.htm
- Owens GP, Winges KM, Ritchie A, et al. VH4 gene segments dominate the intrathecal humoral immune response in multiple sclerosis. J Immunol. 2007;179(9):6343-6351.
- Winges KM, Gilden DH, Bennett JL, Yu X, Ritchie AM, Owens GP. Analysis of multiple sclerosis cerebrospinal fluid reveals a continuum of clonally related antibody-secreting cells that are predominantly plasma blasts. J Neuroimmunol. 2007;192(1-2):226-234.
- Winges KM, Zarpellon U, Hou C, Good WV. Temporary visual inattention caused by high myopic error. Strabismus. 2005;13(2):75-77.
- Joo NS, Lee DJ, Winges KM, Rustagi A, Wine JJ. Regulation of anti-protease and anti-microbial protein secretion by airway submucosal gland serous cells. J Biol Chem. 2004;279(37):38854-38860.
PROFESSIONAL SOCIETY MEMBERSHIPS
- Member, Stanford Association of Oregon | 2022 to Present
- Women Professors of Ophthalmology (WPO) | 2021 to Present
- WPO Associate Professor Liaison for Mentorship Subcommittee | 2022 to Present
- Oregon Women in Ophthalmology Chapter (OWIO), Cofounder and Vice President | 2019 to Present
- Women in Ophthalmology (WIO) | 2018 to Present
- WIO Board of Directors | 2021
- WIO Secretary | 2022
- Co-Chair, WIO AAO Symposium | 2022
- International Multiple Sclerosis Visual System Consortium (IMSVISUAL) | 2017 to Present
- Association of VA Ophthalmologists (AVAO), Neuro-Ophthalmology SEOC Consultant | 2015 to Present
- Oregon Physician Women’s Group (OPWG) | 2015 to Present
- Ophthalmology Moms Group (OMG) | 2015 to Present
- North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society (NANOS) | 2014 to Present
- NANOS Elected Fellow | 2018
- American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO), Diplomate | 2014 to Present
- VA Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence, West | 2014 to Present
- Volunteer Alumni Interviewer for Undergraduate Classes | 2013 to Present
- American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), Fellow | 2009 to Present
- New York Medical College Alumni Association | 2008 to Present
- Cap and Gown Stanford University Women’s Honors Society | 2001 to Present
- Stanford University Alumni Association | 2001 to Present
- Member of Inaugural WPO Mentorship Program Mentee Class | 2021 to 2022
- Women in Neuro-Ophthalmology (WIN) Steering Committee Chair | 2016 to 2020
- Focal Points Editor, Neuro-Ophthalmology | 2020 to 2021
- Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Medical Student Research Fellowship | 2006 to 2007
- Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) | 2007
- American Women’s Medical Association (AMWA) | 2003 to 2008
- American Medical Student Association (AMSA) | 2003 to 2008
HONORS & AWARDS
- Silver Hammer Award: Residency Teaching Award for Non-Neurology Faculty, OHSU Neurology Department | 2022
- Portland Monthly’s Top Doctor | 2021, 2019
- NANOS Merit Award | 2020
- Promotion to Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Neurology, OHSU | 2020
- Federal Women Employees Making a Difference Feature, Federal Women’s Program | 2020
- AAO Achievement Award | 2020
- NANOS Fellow Induction | 2018
- Inaugural Recipient of NANOS Pilot Leadership Development Grant | 2018
- Best Abstract by a Fellow Award, 39th NANOS Annual Meeting | 2013
- Best Resident Presentation, 34th Annual UC Davis Ophthalmology Research Symposium | 2011
- European Committee on Treatment and Research in MS (ECTRIMS)/American Committee on Treatment and Research in MS Merit Travel Grant Award | 2011
- ECTRIMS Merit Travel Grant Award | 2007
- Alpha Omega Alpha Induction | 2007
- Howard Hughes Medical Institute Medical Research Fellowship Award | 2006 to 2007
- Stanford Cap and Gown Women’s Honors Society Induction | 2001