Ocular Genetics

Alex V. Levin, MD, MHSc, Chief, Pediatric Ophthalmology and Ocular Genetics Service

Genetic eye disease is one of the leading causes of blindness and includes disorders such as retinitis pigmentosa, Stargardt disease, hereditary optic neuropathy, pediatric cataracts, pediatric glaucoma, albinism and others. The goal of the Wills Eye Ocular Genetics physicians is to ensure accurate diagnosis including appropriate DNA testing and access to upcoming cutting edge treatments. We hope that each patient will fully understand their disease and have a clear pathway for the next steps in management including full counseling about the inheritance pattern, reproductive options, etiology, support groups, low vision intervention and current treatment trials. We see adult and children patients who have ocular genetic disease and also patients with a wide variety of genetic disorders, which affect other areas of the body along with the eye (e.g. neurofibromatosis, mitochondrial disorders, Marfan syndrome).

Clinic Appointment Times:

Monday   1:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Monthly (2nd and 4th Monday)
Thursday 8:15 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Weekly (except the 1st Thursday of the month)

Patients may be self-referred or referred by any type of physicians.

We make all efforts to see any patient regardless of their ability to pay or insurance status.

Location:

Wills Eye Hospital
840 Walnut Street, Suite 1210 (12th floor)
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 928-3240
Fax: (215) 928-3983
Email: Pediatrics@willseye.org
Chief: Alex V. Levin, MD, MHSc, Ocular Geneticist

Genetic Counselor and Program Manager: Jenina E. Capasso, MS, LGC

  • What to Expect During Your Appointment at Wills Eye Ocular Genetics Service

    Wills Eye Ocular Genetics is located on the 12th floor, Suite 1210, in Pediatrics and Ocular Genetics.

    Parking

    Paid parking is available in our parking deck at 9th and Walnut Streets (entrances on 8th Street or 9th Street just south of Walnut Street, or on Walnut Street between 8th and 9th streets). A patient parking discount is available with validation in the clinic or on the 7th floor. We are also within walking distance of SEPTA's Jefferson Station at 11th/12th and Market Streets and the PATCO High Speed line at 9th and Locust Streets.
    Maps, directions and parking

    Your Visit

    Please try to arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment time to register and complete paperwork. Patients arriving late may need to be rescheduled for another day.

    *Please be aware that the Ocular Genetics clinic has a waiting list of several months. Failure to cancel in a timely manner may delay your rescheduled re-appointment for many months and prevent another patient in need of care from being seen.

    If you are unable to make your appointment, please let us know NO LATER than 2 weeks beforehand.

    As Wills Eye is a world renown academic training center, trainees of various levels from around the world may be involved in the patient’s care. Wills Eye is one of very few Ocular Genetics training programs in the world. Every patient will have unlimited time with the attending Ocular Geneticist, Dr. Levin.

    Most patients will need eye drops to dilate the pupils, which take about 45 minutes to work. Dr. Levin and his colleagues will then examine the eyes again. Other things which may happen during your visit include:

    • Additional tests performed in our Diagnostic Center
    • Photographs taken of the patient
    • Meeting with our Ocular Genetic Counselor (Jenina Capasso)
    • Meeting with our social worker (Melanie Snitzer) for low vision support
    • Answering health-related questions about your family members to help us draw your family tree (if not done in advance)

    Because your visit to Wills Eye Ocular Genetics may require you to complete many different tasks, your appointment may take several hours, so please plan to be here for most (if not all) of the day. You may wish to bring food and/or drinks with you to your appointment. We want to ensure that we accomplish as much as possible so that you will have the most information about your/your child's eye problems. There may be periods of waiting for various steps in your visit to be completed. Please understand that we want to make sure you get all the time you need so that we may address your concerns. We do this with every patient. Despite our best efforts to reduce waiting to a minimum, we can never predict how long a visit will take or what emergencies may arise on a given day. Despite any waits you might experience, we are hopeful that you will leave feeling that you received complete care and our undivided attention.

    Other Things to Bring with You

    • A referral, if required by your insurance provider (Our Tax ID is 233065896)
    • Any relevant medical records that you think may be relevant (if not sent in advance), especially results of any prior genetic testing
    Required forms will be sent to you in advance of your appointment. These should be filled out BEFORE your visit

    If you have any questions prior to your appointment, please do not hesitate to call Jenina at 267-733-9681 or Emily Krauss, our Genetics Coordinator, at 267-765-7971.

    We look forward to meeting you.

CLINICAL

We offer state of the art ophthalmic care, multidisciplinary diagnostic evaluation and testing for these rare conditions, genetic counseling, advanced gene testing, and access to upcoming treatments such as gene therapy, stem cell treatment and bionic chip implantation.

We work closely with several Clinical Geneticists in Philadelphia and New Jersey as well as others around the world to give our patients care not just for their eyes, but for all their bodies as a whole. Together we participate in comprehensive evaluation and management of the patient as well as joint research efforts.

Research

Research into better ways to diagnose and treat ocular genetic problems is also a major objective. We investigate a wide range of ocular genetic conditions in many ways ranging from bench laboratory studies to clinical studies.

We are currently collaborating with the University of Iowa in a Gene Discovery and Treatment Program for retinal dystrophies which will have wide ranging implications for all genetic disease and will offer patients gene therapy or stem cell treatment in the near future for any retinal dystrophy. Our motto is “No patient left behind.”

Wills Eye Gene Discovery and Treatment Program

Genetic eye disease is one of the most common causes of blindness in the world. Right now, over 100,000 people in the United States, and one million worldwide, are going blind from retinal dystrophies, genetically caused degenerative disorders of the retina in the eye. Children and adults with no cure, no treatment and, until recently, no hope. To learn more, click here.

Other ongoing Research Projects (partial list)

  • Genetics of Coats disease
  • Misdiagnosis of Stargardt disease
  • Chromosomal microarray analysis for anterior segment ocular genetic disorders
  • Innovative approaches to gauge progression of Sturge-Weber syndrome
  • Understanding the role of the ABCA4 gene in genetic eye diseases
  • Genetic diagnosis for disorders of the anterior segment
  • Treatment of of intraretinal cystoid spaces in retinal dystrophies
  • Autonomic nervous system involvement in congenital cranial dysinnervation disorders
  • Epidemiology of pediatric glaucoma

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