AAO 2021 Laureate Award: Michael T. Trese, MD

Avni P. Finn MD, MBA
Eric Nudleman, MD, PhD
Yoshihiro Yonekawa, MD
(Photo Credits: Julia Haller, MD)

The American Academy of Ophthalmology presented the 2021 Laureate Award to Dr. Michael T. Trese for his numerous groundbreaking contributions to the management of retinopathy of prematurity and pediatric retinal diseases.  The Laureate Award is the Academy’s highest honor. Dr. Trese is a dedicated teacher, scientist, and surgeon.

Dr. George Williams, past AAO president, Dr. Trese’s colleague of over 30 years, and closest friend, presented the award and highlighted how Dr. Trese’s training in ocular pathology and vitreoretinal surgery enabled powerful accomplishments in our field that span from the laboratory to the clinic in treating neonatal and pediatric retinal diseases.

Dr. Williams described Dr. Trese as the father of modern pediatric vitreoretinal surgery. By developing lens sparing vitrectomy and teaching that pediatric retinal detachments should be approached differently than detachments in adults, Dr. Trese changed the paradigm of the management of complex pediatric retinal detachment.  His surgical philosophies and techniques have provided vision to countless children worldwide who previously had no hope.  Teaching his techniques to generations of trainees, he has had an incredible and enduring impact on the surgical management of pediatric retinal diseases from retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), familial exudative vitreoretinopathy, incontinentia pigmenti, persistent fetal vasculature, and Coats disease.

Dr. Trese’s work in the laboratory led to FDA approval of a pharmacologic vitreolytic agent, and he continues work with this colleagues now in regenerative medicine to restore cellular and vascular function.

Lastly, Dr. Williams highlighted Dr. Trese’s work as a champion in the realm of expanding access to ROP screening by using telemedicine to more widely and more accurately diagnose ROP. Most importantly, Dr. William’s remarked on the skill, grace, and compassion with which Dr. Trese treats his patients and their families, as well as his generosity as a mentor, and love for his family.

We are tremendously grateful for Dr. Trese’s dedication to our field and stand in awe of the lasting impact he has had on the lives and vision of children with vitreoretinal disease.