UC San Diego Shiley Eye Institute UC San Diego Shiley Eye Institute The Viterbi Family Department of Ophthalmology UC San Diego Shiley Eye Institute
by name
Afshari, Natalie A. Baxter, Sally L. Borooah, Shyamanga Brown, Stuart I. Camp, Andrew Do, Jiun Ferreyra, Henry A. Freeman, William R. Goldbaum, Michael H. Granet, David B. Haw, Weldon W. Heichel, Chris W. Hennein, Lauren Huang, Alex A. Huang, Lingling Kikkawa, Don O. Kline, Lanning Korn, Bobby S. Lee, Jeffrey E. Liu, Catherine Y. Moghimi, Sasan Movaghar, Mansoor Nguyen, Thao P. Nudleman, Eric Puig-Llano, Manuel Robbins, Shira L. Rudell, Jolene Savino, Peter J. Scott, Nathan L. Spencer, Doran B. Toomey, Christopher B. Vasile, Cristiana Weinreb, Robert N. Welsbie, Derek S.
by specialty
Comprehensive Ophthalmology Cornea & Cataracts Dry Eye Clinic Glaucoma Neuro-Ophthalmology Ocular Oncology Ophthalmic Genetics Ophthalmic Pathology Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery Ophthalmology Informatics and Data Science Optometry & Low Vision Pediatric Ophthalmology & Eye Alignment Disorders Refractive Surgery / LASIK Retina & Vitreous Thyroid Eye Clinic Uveitis
by condition
AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration) Cataracts Corneal Conditions Cosmetic Surgery Diabetic Retinopathy Eye Cancer Eye Movement Disorders Glaucoma Hereditary (Genetic) Disorders Low Vision Neuro-Ophthalmic Conditions Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Pediatric Conditions Refractive Errors Retinal Diseases Strabismus (Strabimus) Thyroid Eye Disease Uveitis
Natalie A. Afshari, MD, FACS

Natalie A. Afshari, MD, FACS

Professor of Ophthalmology
Stuart I. Brown M.D. Chair in Ophthalmology in Memory of Donald P. Shiley
Chief, Division of Cornea and Refractive Surgery
Vice Chair of Education
Board Certification in Ophthalmology
Fellowship in Cornea and Refractive Surgery

Specialty Cornea & Cataracts, Refractive Surgery / LASIK
Medical School Stanford University
Residency Harvard University, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
Fellowship Harvard University, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
Special Interest Fuchs Dystrophy; Cataract surgery; Corneal transplantation; Endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK & DMEK); Intacs and collagen crosslinking for keratoconus; Laser refractive surgery, including LASIK and PRK, Surgical and medical diseases of cornea.
Publications View on PubMed

Natalie Afshari, MD, FACS, is Chief of Cornea and Refractive Surgery and is accomplished as a clinician, surgeon, and research scientist. She received her medical degree from Stanford University and her residency and fellowship training at Harvard University. Prior to her current appointment she was Professor of Ophthalmology and Director of Centers of Excellence at the Duke University Eye Center. Dr. Afshari’s achievement in cornea & refractive surgery and patient care has been recognized by her peers in several of the “best doctors” lists, including “The Best Doctors in America” in each listing for the past decade. She is also the recipient of the inaugural Top Ten Women in Medicine Award by Triangle News. Furthermore, Dr. Afshari was awarded the academic Achievement Award and the Secretariat Award by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has consulted Dr. Afshari’s expertise for matters of safety and efficacy of various ophthalmologic treatments. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has honored Dr. Afshari by awarding her and her collaborators extensive grant support to study Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy, a genetic disorder leading to corneal transplantation.

In her clinical practice, Dr. Afshari specializes in cataract surgery, corneal transplantation, endothelial keratoplasty, collagen cross linking and intacs for keratoconus, laser refractive surgery, including LASIK, LASEK/Advanced Surface Ablation, PRK, PTK, and treating surgical and medical diseases of cornea. She is a highly skilled cataract surgeon and has held national positions on the professional committees of cataract specialists, including serving as the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery’s representative on the Council of the American Academy Ophthalmology. Dr. Afshari is also a recognized expert in corneal transplantation and refractive surgery and has successfully treated many complex cases referred to her by other leading surgeons.

In addition to her successes with patients, Dr. Afshari has published extensively in both medical journals and textbooks. She is the co-editor of a two volume Cornea Book “Principles and Practice of Cornea”. While her textbook chapters focus on clinical skills, her journal articles report her innovations and findings in research. Her research has won her multiple honors, including the prestigious Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) award and the Heed Foundation Ophthalmic Award. Additionally, Dr. Afshari performs sight-restoring procedure using keratoprosthesis, a synthetic plastic-based artificial cornea which has been featured nationally on television news programs.

Dr. Afshari’s dedication to research and clinical care also inspires her teaching. For her commitment to teaching and training ophthalmologists, she has received the Teacher of the Year award at Duke University Eye Center. She also has been invited to lecture nationally and internationally. Dr. Afshari’s peers also elected her to the cornea program committee and Awards committee of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), which oversees the scientific program of the largest eye research association in the world. She is also the Chief Judge for the scientific posters of American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

Several scientific and scholarly journals have sought Dr. Afshari’s expertise and recognized her research leadership by naming her to their editorial boards or seeking her assistance in reviewing the work of other scientists. She is currently on the editorial board of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. She is also an editor for Current Opinion in Ophthalmology cataract surgery, and has served on the editorial board of EyeNet magazine, a journal published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

When not researching or practicing, Dr. Afshari donates her time and surgical expertise as an international volunteer. She has traveled to West Africa, Central America, and Mexico to help patients who might otherwise go untreated.

Dr. Afshari received her medical degree from Stanford University and her residency training at Harvard University, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. She then completed a two-year fellowship in cornea and refractive surgery at Harvard University.


Copeland and Afshari's Principles and Practice of CORNEA


Challenging Cases in Cataract Surgery | Lens and Cataract


Grateful Admiration

I just left the Shiley Eye Institute feeling grateful that this top quality group - eye specialists, clinical researchers, and academicians - is in my community.  Due to an array of eye problems, I see physicians in many departments and am extremely pleased with the care I’ve received.  However, I’d like to share my experience about one physician, in particular, Natalie Afshari, M.D., Chief, Division of Cornea and Refractive Surgery.

Nearly forty years ago, I was diagnosed with Fuch’s Dystrophy.  I recognized the symptoms because my mother had Fuch’s and was nearly blind much of her adult life.  Although corneal transplantation was relatively new, I decided to undergo the surgeries.  Several years later, I developed Shingles (Herpes Zoster) in and above one eye.

When I moved to San Diego 1989, I did my research and chose Shiley for periodic checks and for macular degeneration identified there. In 2012, I learned that the right cornea was rejecting due to a recurrence of Shingles.

But, I was lucky.  Among many skills, Dr. Afshari is an expert on Fuch’s and corneal transplantation.  She worked diligently to save my cornea, but additional transplants were needed due to Shingles recurrences. After discussions together, we decided to proceed with a relatively new technique, a prosthetic corneal transplant. This amazing gift not only contains donor tissue, but is encased in metal, making it less likely to reject. The surgery saved my eyesight.

The admiration I have for Dr. Afshari grows with each visit. She possesses extraordinary clinical skills, listens intently to concerns, suggests solutions, and assures that all questions have been fully answered. Together we make important decisions. I look forward to visits because I trust her professionally and am uplifted by her energy, caring and friendship.  In addition to her research and teaching, Dr. Afshari exhibits both the expertise and the human qualities I believe make her an outstanding physician.

I tell friends I have supernatural powers in the right eye that I now jokingly call “bionic”. Recently Dr. Afshari asked a Shiley Low Vision expert, optometrist Dr. Anne Lam, to see me.  Dr. Lam worked diligently and creatively over several months, combining both hard and soft contact lenses.  The results of the teamwork enabled me to meet my goal – to pass the DMV vision test and renew my Driver’s License.  I feel fortunate that I am truly a Shiley success story. 

Thank you!

Iris Masotti


It is wonderful to have good vision, when you have gone without it for several years.

I started out with eyes that weren’t good. After Dr. Afshari performed cataract surgery on both of my eyes, I now have 20/20 vision.

It is wonderful to have good vision, when you have gone without it for several years.

Dr. Afshari explained the whole procedure patiently, both what to expect before and after the surgery. There was never any pain in either eye.

I must also say that the Shiley Eye Institute and its people are fantastic.
A lot of excellent research is being done at the Shiley Eye Institute.

Duane E. Blickenstaff, MD

Comparto mi experiencia maravillosa con la comunidad de habla hispana.

Comparto mi experiencia maravillosa con la comunidad de habla hispana.

Sufri de desprendimiento de retina, lo que me ocasiono catarata en ese ojo.
Despues de varios meses de la cirugía del desprendimiento de retina, mi medico Dr. Eric Nudleman, me refirió con la Dra. Afshari para la operación de catarata.

No se como expresar mi agradecimiento a la Dra. Afshari, ella me explico detenidamente el proceso de la cirugía al igual que su equipo y mi ojo quedo perfecto.

Dr. Afshari esta sumamente preparada con gran experiencia y dedicación.

Deseo con todo mi corazón que si tienen cualquier problema con su vista acudan con la seguridad que tendrán la mejor atención, con un equipo de medicos maravilloso en el mejor instituto, Shiley Eye Institute que pertenece a UC San Diego.

También les platico que la Dra. Afshari viaja al Africa, Centro America y Mexico donde practica cirugías de manera gratuita a personas que de otra manera no pudieran ser atendidos por un medico.

Si tienen la oportunidad alguna día de ser atendidos por ella, por favor compartan sus comentarios y así nuestra comunidad tendrá excelente atención.

Muchas Gracias

Mary Villalobos

My situation was somewhat complex as I was dealing with 3 different eye conditions, 2 of which fell under the auspices of a cornea doctor.

I was referred to Dr. Afshari by a highly respected doctor in her field and I felt very fortunate for the recommendation. My situation was somewhat complex as I was dealing with 3 different eye conditions, 2 of which fell under the auspices of a cornea doctor. Dr. Afshari was able to diagnose these 2 problems and in her reassuring and professional way, she clearly outlined her suggested treatment plan.  She had a very positive, yet realistic view of the treatment.  She exuded total confidence, she considered all aspects of my situation, and she gave me a complete feeling of trust in her.

Also important to mention is that she gave me 110% of her time and total attention during our appointments - never rushed or cut me short in any way. I am happy to report that my surgeries were successful and turned out exactly as she had outlined to me. I have the highest respect for Dr. Afshari and feel totally comfortable to pass on my recommendation to others.

Diane Schatz

Caring and kind and very skilled

Having cataract surgery performed by Dr. Afshari changed my life!
Before my cataract surgery, my vision was 20/200 and I could not drive anymore.  Dr. Afshari did my cataract surgery and I now have 20/25 vision!!! I could not be happier.
Dr. Afshari is caring and kind and very skilled.
I don’t know why anyone would go anywhere else when you have a complicated eye disease like Keratoconus, like I do.


I could not be happier with the results.

It has been over 8 weeks since cataract surgery on my second eye. Unlike others I have talked with about their cataract surgery, I had no complications of any kind.

What makes that even more amazing is how bad my eyesight was before the surgery.

Right eye

Minus 6 diopter, = 20/500.

Left eye

Minus 15 diopter = 20/????  The eye is not the normal round but shaped like an egg.

I was told by other doctors outside of Shiley, that my eyes were so bad, I would be lucky to have 20/50 vision after the surgery.

I have 20/20 vision in both eyes. For the first time since I was 10 years old. I am 70 years old.

The first surgery was amazing. I remember sitting back in the surgery chair being prepped. The next thing I remember was seeing a cup with a straw in it. I asked when the surgery was to begin? I was told they had just finished.

During my visits, as rushed as Dr Afshari was, (yes, there were some long waiting times) she was always 100% present when she was with me.

When she apologized for those long waits, I could feel, she really meant it. For, as I was to later learn, it was not her fault. She is just over booked.

20/20 vision. No complications. Positive caring attitude in all supporting doctors, and staff I met. Can not ask for anything more.

As you can read I could not be happier with the results.

Rob Sudman

A Life Changing Treatment

I have had Fuchs’ Dystrophy for the last fifteen years and as a result, have experienced decreasing visual acuity during that time.  Corrective lenses enabled me to continue my normal activities until a year ago when my vision was becoming beyond correction.  I realized that soon I would not be able to drive safely anymore.

My husband, a retired physician, dedicated himself to finding the best possible treatment to restore my vision.  After becoming thoroughly knowledgeable of all aspects of Fuchs’ Dystrophy and communicating with corneal specialists worldwide, both physicians and researchers, he formulated what he thought would be the best treatment.

The treatment included both corneal surgery and postsurgical use of a medication that had shown much promise in leading-edge research studies.  The challenge was to find a highly skilled corneal surgeon who was familiar with these studies and willing to undertake the surgery.  There were really only two candidates in the United States. One of them was Dr. Afshari.

From the moment my husband and I consulted with Dr. Afshari we knew she was the right choice.  She was extremely knowledgeable and understood the treatment my husband was proposing, having conducted her own research studies on Fuchs’ Dystrophy.  Moreover, Dr. Afshari was pleased to undertake the surgery which she felt would be very successful.

Now, a year after our initial consultation, my vision has been restored.  I am so thankful to my husband for the research he did to find the best possible treatment and even more, I am thankful he found the best possible physician, Dr. Afshari.  Not only does she possess extraordinary clinical skills but she has great communication skills as well.  She listens, explains things in a clear way, and always makes sure questions are answered.   At my every visit, she seems full of energy, upbeat and happy to see me.  I will always be grateful for the life-changing treatment Dr. Afshari gave me.

Susan Puma

LipiFlow is the single most effective treatment I’ve used against MGD

LipiFlow is the single most effective treatment I’ve used against MGD. I’m happy to take the treatment every year.

John Rouse
Professor Emeritus, UCSD

She Saved My Vision

I am a super fan of Dr. Natalie Afshari!

She has been caring for me for two years and I know her well.

Both of my corneas developed openings. The healing can be difficult. Dr. Afshari knew about a new eye drop being developed to treat this problem. As soon as it was approved for use, she obtained it and began its use.

Both corneas were healed! Now that my eyes were stabilized, she was able to perform cataract surgery which resulted in a dramatic improvement in my vision.

In addition to Dr. Afshari’s professional skills, she is just a great person. Always cheerful and attends to every detail. She is admired by all other doctors, assistants, and students flock to work with her. She is the finest doctor that I have ever known.

Louis, August 2021

Shiley Eye Institute Faculty Expertscape Rankings



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