President Trump is scheduled to be in Philadelphia on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 at The National Constitution Center (NCC) in the Independence Mall area. Increased police presence is anticipated in Center City throughout Tuesday afternoon and evening. Please allow extra time if you are going to Wills Eye. Please be advised of area street closures to vehicles beginning at 1:00PM on Tuesday 9/15. Pedestrian access will also be limited in the area. This is subject to change and area restrictions, which could widen, will be lifted once the President departs the NCC. There are also demonstrations planned for Tuesday 9/15 around Independence Mall as well as City Avenue.

In My Own Words

In My Own Words    

Blogs from Wills Eye Physicians


By Julia A. Haller, MD


The turbulence we are experiencing today due to the COVID-19 pandemic has created unforeseen hardships around the world and within ophthalmology as our families, friends, and colleagues come to grips with an ever-changing landscape of risk and restriction wrought by this devastating disease.

Who knew that in 2020, the Year of Ophthalmology, our world would be transformed into a battleground? All elective operations cancelled, ambulatory surgicenters closed, patient visits ratcheted down to urgent and emergent, physicians and staff on rotations to decrease contamination risks, medical students graduated early and sent to the front lines, and subspecialists dusting off their general medical skills to be at the ready.

With all this disruption and uncertainty, the need for a united community and a forum for knowledge sharing has never been greater.

Beginning with the overwhelming response by more than 700 registrants to our “Game Changers” webinar on April 3rd, we are back up and running live-streamed content - both new and from “The Vault”, featuring classic Chiefs Rounds cases, BCSC-related lectures, and featured conferences such as Complicated Cataract Surgery.

In these challenging times, we all need some semblance of normalcy.  We at Wills Eye are determined to stay on track. Our mission is to continue to be your most trusted and reliable source for up-to-date clinical information, free online CME, resident lectures, and more. So join us for the communal experience of watching our latest live-streamed educational activities while we brave this new world. I am inspired by a blog posting from our colleague at MEEI, first year resident Sila Bal, who noted, “We stand together, if no longer in physical space then in mental grit”.  That’s the attitude, Sila!

At Wills, we stand together with all of you, and we are cheering for your grit!  We got this!  Never Give In!

By Alex Levin, MD, MHSc

Chief, Pediatric Ophthalmology and Ocular Genetics Service

Let me begin with a thank you. To all of you who have worked so hard to keep our service going amidst this crisis. To the Wills team that is managing our ship and all of its cargo through the storm. To each of you for protecting our patients, and ensuring their continued care, while looking after yourselves and families. Thank you all.

These are crazy times but they will pass. Our patients need us, so we will remain committed to give them the service they deserve in whatever ways possible including telemedicine. Please know that I also have each of you in my heart and will do whatever I can to support you in any way I can during this rough period. I have always said that our service is the best at Wills when it comes to a sense of family, spirit and caring. And the care we deliver is first rate world class.

Wills continues to fight the good fight and continues to buckle down with tighter restrictions to “flatten the curve” of this disease. I will close by asking you to read the writing below which gives a view of the world that I think is on target.


Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.


They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

The sky is no longer thick with fumes

But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi People are singing to each

other across the empty squares, keeping their windows open so that

those who are alone may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland

Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know is busy spreading fliers with her number through the neighborhood

So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples are preparing to

welcome and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting

All over the world people are looking at their neighbors in a new way

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

To how big we really are.

To how little control we really have.

To what really matters.

To Love.

So we pray and we remember that

Yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be a disease of the soul

Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic

The birds are singing again

The sky is clearing, Spring is coming, And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able to touch across the empty square,


- - Hsiao-Wen

By Robert Penne, MD

Chief, Oculoplastics Service

These are unique and difficult times for healthcare providers.  I clearly recognize that the stress and challenges of health care providers on the front lines of Covid makes what I describe below seem minor.  They are the real heroes in this fight.

As physicians we are trained to take care of patients and that is what I have done for 30 years.  Suddenly I am being told the best way to care for my patients is to cancel appointments, surgery and try to care for patients in a different way.  I recognize that stopping most patient care is the right thing to do to stop the Covid spread but it is not simple.  Which patients will be okay being cancelled and not being seen for 2-3 months is new territory and concerning. There is a concern these patients may deteriorate and may get worse during that time.

Everyone seeing patients, even only for emergent conditions, has ongoing concerns of exposure to their staff and themselves to Covid.  Could you bring Covid home to your family, who may be sheltering in place as required, but you could be the vector of infection. For me a real fear.

Finally, there is the financial side of private practice.  When a practice sees very few patients and does very little surgery it can only stay in business as is for so long.  No one knows how long this will last, 2 months, 3,4??  When do you have to cut your staff’s hours, salary and even furlough employees to survive.  Can you continue to give benefits?  Will your furloughed employee return when the pandemic is over?  All decisions that dramatically affect many people’s lives and are not easy to make.

We will all get through this. We are putting great thought into all of our decisions.  Most importantly, we want our patients to get the care they need. The patient physician relationship is a precious thing and the reason most of us became doctors. Each day I think of that. We can only do our best to balance the need to protect patients, staff and family from Covid with the need to continue to practice our art of medicine.

By Carol Shields, MD

Chief, Ocular Oncology Service

Our Shield Against the Virus

As we were following the news of the novel Coronavirus that has changed our daily lives in ways no one could have ever imagined, and in two weeks, we shrunk as the number of confirmed cases rose exponentially in nearby states, especially New York and New Jersey. So, the Ocular Oncology team at Wills Eye Hospital had to step up with a rapid and reasonable decision as to which patients have to be seen urgently and which might be postponed until further notice. In times of a national emergency, the decision had to be wise and had to be made quickly.

Our main concern was with children with retinoblastoma, the most common pediatric eye cancer. These children travel with their families from all over the country to receive the best treatment possible, with hopes to save the eye and vision. Most are receiving systemic chemotherapy and have compromised immune systems, so their chances of contracting a viral infection could be high. Yet, deferring treatment might mean risking their lives, their eyes, and their sight. The stakes are high, but the decision had to be made. Every single member of the oncology team decided to become a brave health care provider and step up to take care of patients no matter the situation. We are dedicated. We are WILLS EYE.

Our strategy against the virus is that our hope for tumor regression and eye control outweigh the risk for virus-related problems. We chose to fight the battle with the invisible demon, the Coronavirus, as well as fight the war against retinoblastoma. We are confident that we will win.

By Yoshihiro Yonekawa, MD

Attending Surgeon – Retina Service and Pediatrics

Patients will develop retinal detachment with or without the coronavirus pandemic. Our mission as retina surgeons is to save the vision of patients with diseases of the vitreous and retina, which are often acute, severe, and intimidating. This week at Wills Eye Hospital, we were in the OR helping many patients whose retinas were detaching. Untreated, retinal detachment is uniformly a blinding condition. Wills is well equipped to make sure that patients, families, and staff are well protected, so that we can perform the same high level of retina surgery without making any compromises. Vitreoretinal surgery for urgent conditions will remain an essential medical service throughout this pandemic.