At COA, we are thrilled to welcome the talented Dr. Kancherla to our practice—starting November 2. We recently sat down with her to discuss her approach to ophthalmology, find out why she is excited to join our team, and help our patients get to know her. Read on for our interview!
Where did you grow up? What extracurriculars were you involved in?
I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago—along with my older brother and yellow Labrador Retriever. My activities at school included playing the flute and piccolo in the wind symphony, marching band, and pep band, as well as having a (very) brief stint on the track and field team.
Who or what influenced you to become an ophthalmologist?
I started seeing an ophthalmologist at age 3 when I had a personal eye condition (which thankfully resolved!). I continued to see him every year, and this slowly shaped my interest in ophthalmology when I entered medical school. My father, an anesthesiologist, also gave me a unique perspective on eye surgery. Additionally, I was able to observe some ophthalmologists who he worked with, which helped me learn about the various sub-specialties like cornea, retina, and glaucoma.
What was your training like during your residency and fellowship?
I completed my ophthalmology residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and my cornea fellowship at Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute. These years were easily some of the most rewarding in my life. I not only had wonderful mentors who gave me invaluable pearls of wisdom (I can still hear their voices in the back of my head!), but I also forged lifelong friendships with my colleagues. We still turn to each other for advice or even a good laugh.
What drives you to provide the best in patient care?
Visual issues can be challenging from a clinical and emotional standpoint. I strive to not only make sure my patients know I am listening but to also thoroughly explain conditions and treatment options. Overall, I hope to provide the care that I would want for my own family members.
What will be your areas of specialization at COA?
I practice cornea and comprehensive ophthalmology. This includes not only cataracts, diabetic eye exams, and glaucoma screenings but also corneal conditions that may require specialized care. These conditions include issues such as corneal ulcers, recurrent corneal erosions, allergic keratoconjunctivitis, poorly healing corneal defects, herpetic keratitis, pterygia, and Fuchs’ dystrophy. In regards to corneal transplantation, I offer DSAEK and DMEK, which involve the innermost layers of the cornea, as well as PKP, which involves the full corneal thickness. Additionally, I offer refractive surgery (LASIK and PRK) to patients who want to be free of glasses or contacts and to patients who would like to improve their visual outcome after having cataract surgery.
Dry eye is a common corneal problem. What is your approach to treating this issue?
Dry eye can be a chronic condition that changes in severity depending on numerous circumstances. Medical conditions, lifestyle changes, weather, medications, and so much more can affect dry eye. In other words, a patient’s history is just as important as their clinical exam, and therefore, my approach to dry eye is personalized to each patient. I can tailor a customized plan with over-the-counter drops, lid hygiene, in-office procedures, and/or prescription medications.
What is your approach for patients who are interested in refractive surgery?
I am very conservative in my approach and will evaluate every patient thoroughly to make sure they are a safe candidate for refractive surgery. The ideal candidate is a patient who has had a stable glasses prescription for at least one year and who has a clear goal set in mind in terms of their target vision. Some contraindications to refractive surgery include pregnancy/nursing, severe dry eye, corneal ectatic disorders like keratoconus, and some autoimmune conditions. Additionally, it is important to know that refractive procedures do not prevent cataracts, glaucoma, or retinal detachments.
Will you be involved with training the next generation of eye care professionals?
Throughout my years in ophthalmology, I have been involved in medical student, resident, and fellow education. I believe that it is our duty to continue to pass knowledge down just as I have received from my own predecessors.
Tell us about your family. How has having a baby changed your life?
Everything they said is true! Having a baby makes a part of you happy that you never knew could be happy. My husband and I welcomed our son in August, and we are enjoying this new phase of our lives. We are blessed to have family close by and look forward to seeing him grow up surrounded by so much love!
What hobbies and activities keep you grounded outside of medicine?
Being a new mom means I am spending much of my free time reading children’s books, assisting with tummy time, and making funny faces to get a glimpse of a smile from my son! Apart from that, I love being able to exercise, cook, and (hopefully soon) travel.
COA has a special staff of professionals—with optometrists, ophthalmologists, and opticians working side by side. What are the benefits of being in this type of environment? How do you work with each other to care for corneal patients?
It is an ideal environment to have multiple specialists within eye care because we each bring something unique to the table. Not only are we able to take care of routine eye conditions, but we can also more efficiently manage difficult cases while providing continuity of care. This is extremely valuable to patients and their families. For example, although my expertise is in medical conditions, sometimes patients need advanced contact lenses to help them achieve their optimal vision. An OD can fit them into specialized lenses, which can make a world of difference for the patient.
What are you most looking forward to about life in central Ohio?
I am thrilled to be joining COA. I immediately knew this was the type of group I wanted to be a part of after the first meeting, and I look forward to offering my services to the community! We are so happy to be settling down close to family. Additionally, we missed the down-to-earth, friendly, and relaxed environment that is so unique to the midwest. We look forward to all things Columbus—go Bucks!