The 2022 Wills Eye Ball, held Saturday, June 25th at The Union League of Philadelphia, celebrated the Wills Eye Cataract & Primary Eye Care Service. The black-tie event saluted Dr. Robert S. Bailey Jr. and Dr. Mark H. Blecher for the leadership and dedication to Wills Eye, its patients, and residents.
“Cheers to my colleagues, Dr. Bailey and Dr. Blecher. It has been a pleasure to work alongside them for many years and see the difference they’ve made in the lives of so many patients, residents, and fellow faculty members,” said Julia A. Haller, MD, Ophthalmologist-in-Chief, Wills Eye Hospital. “Their enthusiasm and passion for innovation is something I personally admire and know many of my peers do as well. Congratulations to both Rob and Mark on this well-deserved honor.”
As CPEC’s Director for the past 20 years, Dr. Bailey oversaw resident teaching in the clinic and operating room. He helped develop courses in basic and advanced cataract surgery, which included utilizing offsite and onsite wet labs so residents could build surgical skills. He developed a surgical mentorship program that paired attending surgeons and residents and, together with Dr. Blecher, instituted biweekly reviews of surgical videos with residents. An expert in anterior segment surgery, Dr. Bailey has been an invited faculty member at Harvard Medical School’s highly regarded Intensive Cataract Surgical Training Course.
“I’m honored and touched by the recognition at this year’s Wills Eye Ball. At Wills Eye, we are so fortunate to have so many teachers and mentors who give the greatest gifts – knowledge, judgement, and the drive to improve the lives of others. I am proud to be a small part of the team,” said Dr. Bailey. “The Cataract and Primary Eye Care staff is an amazing group of dedicated physicians who provide teaching and mentorship to the residents in the clinic and operating room. The depth of talent we have on our service is second to none.”
Dr. Blecher served as Co-Director of CPEC from 2002-2018, treating a wide range of ophthalmic diseases and teaching residents. He’s been at the forefront of modern cataract and refractive surgery and performed more than 20,000 cataract and 10,000 LASIK surgeries. He was also involved in FDA clinical trials of intraocular lenses, a key element of modern cataract surgery. In recent years, Dr. Blecher has concentrated on premium cataracts and new cataract surgical technology, presented papers and taught courses at nationwide conferences, and serves as Senior Medical Editor of Review of Ophthalmology.
“When Dr. Bailey and I became leadership at CPEC, we saw a need to formalize training of cataracts and provide and teach the more specialized parts of the procedure. I wanted to be able to teach the next generation of ophthalmologists and return the favor that was done for me,” said Dr. Blecher. “When I look back on my career and all the things I’ve been able to achieve, one of the things that gives me the greatest satisfaction is all the different surgeons I’ve been able to train and positively impact. It was an honor to stand on stage at this year’s Wills Eye Ball and reflect on all that has been accomplish and all that is yet to come.”