DoctorsThomas C. Lee, MD

Thomas C. Lee, MD

Title: Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology and Director of the Vision Center Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA)

Department: Ophthalmology

Clinical Specialty: Pediatric Ophthalmology and Vitreoretinal Surgery and Retinal Disease

Treatment Expertise: Retinal Diseases, Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), Pediatric Ophthalmology

Certification: American Board of Ophthalmology

Languages: English, Korean

Location: Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Biography and Education


Thomas C. Lee, MD, was educated at the prestigious Cornell University Medical College where he completed his medical degree in 1992, graduating with honors in research as a Howard Hughes Scholar. He pursued his residency in ophthalmology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Cornell University followed by a retina fellowship at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Lee was director of the pediatric retina services and associate director of the Robert M. Ellsworth Ocular Oncology Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Cornell University before joining the USC Roski Eye Institute and CHLA as an Associate Professor.

Dr. Lee has devoted his career to providing the most advanced pediatric ophthalmic care. He is known internationally for his efforts to deliver state-of-the art care to under-serviced regions. Most notably, Dr. Lee collaborated with the Armenian Eye Care Project (AECP) team members to direct a telemedicine and distant learning portal to reduce blindness in babies through patient screening and physician education. Through the telemedicine technology, Dr. Lee could supervise ophthalmic exams and complex ophthalmic surgeries remotely.

Research Interests:

Dr. Lee’s primary research area of interest is pediatric retinal disorders, including, but not limited to, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), coats disease, and retinoblastoma (RB), as well as developing innovative imaging techniques. Dr. Lee pioneered the use of Spectral Domain Optical Coherence Tomography (SD-OCT) to identify retinal detachments at the earliest possible stage. He was also the first to use an intraocular endoscope to perform complex surgery in pediatric retinal detachments resulting from ROP, familial exudative vitreo-retinopathy (FEVR), X-linked retinoschisis, and trauma.


  • MD, Cornell University Medical College, 1992


  • New York Presbyterian Hospital, Cornell Medical Center, 1992 – 1993


  • New York Presbyterian Hospital, Cornell Medical Center, 1993– 1996


  • Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA


Professional society memberships:

  • Scientific Advisory Committee Member, Knights Templar Eye Foundation
  • Society of Heed Fellows Global O.N.E. Network, American Academy of Ophthalmology Chairman, Retinoblastoma Biology
  • Committee, Children’s Oncology Group Pacific Coast ophthalmology Society American Society of Pediatric Retina Specialists


  • Memorial Prize, Cornell 1991 Howard Hughes Medical Student Fellowship, 1989
  • Dean William Mecklenburg Polk Memorial Prize Weill Medical College, Cornell, 1991
  • Franklyn Ellenbogen Prize in Hematology and Oncology, Cornell, 1996
  • Presbyterian Hospital Resident Teaching Award, 1996
  • Weill Medical College, Cornell University Heed Fellowship, Harvard, 1996
  • New York Academy of Medicine Resident Research Award, 1996
  • Resident Teaching Award Weill Medical College, Cornell University, 1996
  • Heed Fellowship Harvard Medical School, 1996
  • Distinguished House Staff Award, Society of the New York
  • Fellowship Research Award, Retina Society, 1999
  • New York Hospital Clinical Scholar, 2002
  • Achievement Award, American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2006
  • St. Giles Endowed Chair in Pediatric Retinal Disease, Weill Medical College, Cornell University, 2006
  • Robert M. Ellsworth Lecturer, Weill Medical College, Cornell University, 2007
  • Keynote Speaker, Korean American Medical Association, 2008
  • Award for Excellence in Residency Training, Department of Ophthalmology, USC, 2008
  • A. Raymond Pilkerton Lecturer, Georgetown University, 2009
  • Best Doctors, 2009 to present
  • Barbara M. Korsch Award for Research in Medical Education, CHLA, 2010
  • Jackson Coleman Lecturer Weill Medical College, Cornell University, 2010
  • Barbara M. Korsch Award for Research in Medical Education, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, 2011
  • Ellis Island Medal of Honor, National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, 2012
  • Morris and Mary Press Humanism Award, CHLA, 2013
  • Clement McCulloch Lecturer, University of Toronto, 2013
  • Pasadena Magazine, Top Doctors in Ophthalmology, 2013 – 2014
  • Bruce Williams Lecture, Montreal Children’s Hospital, McGill University, 2014
  • Senior Achievement Award, American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2014
  • Williams S. Gilbert Lecture, Children’s National Medical Canter, 2014


  1. Berry JL, Xu L, Murphree AL, Krishnan S, Stachelek K, Zolfaghari E, McGovern K, Lee TC, Carlsson A, Kuhn P, Kim JW, Cobrinik D, Hicks J. Potential of Aqueous Humor as a Surrogate Tumor Biopsy for Retinoblastoma. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2017 Nov;135(11):1221-30.
  2. Browne AW, Arnesano C, Harutyunyan N, Khuu T, Martinez JC, Pollack HA, Koos DS, Lee TC, Fraser SE, Moats RA, Aparicio JG, Cobrinik D. Structural and Functional Characterization of Human Stem-Cell-Derived Retinal Organoids by Live Imaging. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2017 Jul;58(9):3311-8.
  3. Todorich B, Thanos A, Yonekawa Y, Thomas BJ, Faia LJ, Chang E, Shulman J, Olsen KR, Blair MP, Shapiro MP, Ferrone P, Vajzovic L, Toth CA, Lee TC, Robinson J, Hubbard B, Kondo H, Besirli CG, Nudleman E, Wong SC, Kusaka S, Walsh M, Chan RVP, Berrocal A, Caputo G, Murray TG, Sears J, Schunemann R, Harper CA, 3rd, Kychental A, Dorta P, Cernichiaro-Espinosa LA, Wu WC, Campbell JP, Martinez-Castellanos MA, Quiroz-Mercado H, Hayashi H, Quiram P, Amphornphruet A, Hartnett ME, Tsui I, Ells A, John V, Moshfeghi D, Capone A, Jr., Drenser KA, Trese MT. Correspondence. Retina. 2017 May;37(5):e52-e4.
  4. Hong BK, Say EA, Chevez-Barrios P, Lee TC, Kim JW. Anterior Chamber Cholesterolosis in a Patient with Retinoblastoma. Digit J Ophthalmol. 2016;22(1):35-7.
  5. Berry JL, Shih G, Moysidis SN, Jubran R, Wong K, Lee TC, Murphree AL, Kim JW. Patterns of Subretinal Fluid Resolution in Group D Eyes Treated with Chemoreduction: Experience from the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles/University of Southern California. Ophthalmic Genet. 2016 Mar 2:1-4.
  6. Browne AW, Dandapani SV, Jennelle R, Stevanovic M, Lee TC, Murphree AL, et al. Outcomes of Medium Choroidal Melanomas Treated with Ruthenium Brachytherapy Guided by Three-Dimensional Pretreatment Modeling. Brachytherapy. 2015;14(5):718-25. Epub 2015/06/16. doi: 10.1016/j.brachy.2015.04.010. PubMed PMID: 26073224.
  7. Berry JL, Ediriwickrema L, Wong K, Lee TC, Murphree AL, Kim JW, Jubran R. Long-Term Outcomes of Group B Eyes in Patients with Retinoblastoma Treated with Short-Course Chemoreduction: Experience from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles/University of Southern California. Ocul Oncol Pathol. 2015 Dec;2(2):105-11.
  8. Wong SC, Lee TC, Heier JS, Ho AC. Endoscopic Vitrectomy. Current Opinion in Ophthalmology. 2014;25(3):195-206. Epub 2014/04/10. doi: 10.1097/icu.0000000000000052. PubMed PMID: 24713607.
  9. Wong SC, Lee TC, Heier JS. 23-Gauge Endoscopic Vitrectomy. Developments in Ophthalmology. 2014;54:108-19. Epub 2014/09/10. doi: 10.1159/000360456. PubMed PMID: 25196759.
  10. Berry JL, Jubran R, Wong K, Lee TC, Murphree AL, Kim JW. Factors Predictive of Long-Term Visual Outcomes of Group D Eyes Treated with Chemoreduction and Low-Dose IMRT Salvage: The Children’s Hospital Los Angeles experience. The British Journal of Ophthalmology. 2014;98(8):1061-5. Epub 2014/03/29. doi: 10.1136/bjophthalmol-2013-304411. PubMed PMID: 24671926.
  11. Kang KB, Orlin A, Lee TC, Chiang MF, Chan RV. The Use of Digital Imaging in the Identification of Skip Areas after Laser Treatment for Retinopathy of Prematurity and its Implications for Education and Patient Care. Retina (Philadelphia, Pa). 2013;33(10):2162-9. Epub 2013/04/26. doi: 10.1097/IAE.0b013e31828e6969. PubMed PMID: 23615346.
  12. Chavala SH, Kim Y, Tudisco L, Cicatiello V, Milde T, Kerur N, et al. Retinal Angiogenesis Suppression through Small Molecule Activation of p53. The Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2013;123(10):4170-81. Epub 2013/09/11. doi: 10.1172/jci67315. PubMed PMID: 24018558; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc3784529.
  13. Berry JL, Jubran R, Kim JW, Wong K, Bababeygy SR, Almarzouki H, et al. Long-Term Outcomes of Group D Eyes in Bilateral Retinoblastoma Patients Treated with Chemoreduction and Low-Dose IMRT Salvage. Pediatric Blood & Cancer. 2013;60(4):688-93. Epub 2012/09/22. doi: 10.1002/pbc.24303. PubMed PMID: 22997170.
  14. Berry JL, Dandapani SV, Stevanovic M, Lee TC, Astrahan M, Murphree AL, et al. Outcomes of Choroidal Melanomas Treated with Eye Physics: A 20-Year Review. JAMA Ophthalmology. 2013;131(11):1435-42. Epub 2013/09/07. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2013.4422. PubMed PMID: 24008431.
  15. Wong RK, Ventura CV, Espiritu MJ, Yonekawa Y, Henchoz L, Chiang MF, et al. Training Fellows for Retinopathy of Prematurity Care: A Web-Based Survey. Journal of AAPOS : The Official Publication of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus / American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. 2012;16(2):177-81. Epub 2012/04/25. doi: 10.1016/j.jaapos.2011.12.154. PubMed PMID: 22525176; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc3338950.
  16. Nagiel A, Espiritu MJ, Wong RK, Lee TC, Lauer AK, Chiang MF, et al. Retinopathy of Prematurity Residency Training. Ophthalmology. 2012;119(12):2644-5.e1-2. Epub 2012/12/05. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2012.07.015. PubMed PMID: 23207022; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc3921178.
  17. Yonekawa Y, Chan RV, Reddy AK, Pieroni CG, Lee TC, Lee S. Early Intravitreal Treatment of Endogenous Bacterial Endophthalmitis. Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology. 2011;39(8):771-8. Epub 2011/11/05. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-9071.2011.02545.x. PubMed PMID: 22050564.
  18. Myung JS, Paul Chan RV, Espiritu MJ, Williams SL, Granet DB, Lee TC, et al. Accuracy of Retinopathy of Prematurity Image-Based Diagnosis by Pediatric Ophthalmology Fellows: Implications for Training. Journal of AAPOS : The Official Publication of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus / American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. 2011;15(6):573-8. Epub 2011/12/14. doi: 10.1016/j.jaapos.2011.06.011. PubMed PMID: 22153403; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc3240850.
  19. Lee NG, Berry JL, Lee TC, Wang AT, Honowitz S, Murphree AL, et al. Sonoporation Enhances Chemotherapeutic Efficacy in Retinoblastoma Cells in vitro. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 2011;52(6):3868-73. Epub 2011/01/29. doi: 10.1167/iovs.10-6501. PubMed PMID: 21273549; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc3109062.
  20. Xu XL, Lee TC, Offor N, Cheng C, Liu A, Fang Y, et al. Tumor-Associated Retinal Astrocytes Promote Retinoblastoma Cell Proliferation through Production of IGFBP-5. The American Journal of Pathology. 2010;177(1):424-35. Epub 2010/05/29. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2010.090512. PubMed PMID: 20508032; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc2893684.
  21. Williams SL, Wang L, Kane SA, Lee TC, Weissgold DJ, Berrocal AM, et al. Telemedical Diagnosis of Retinopathy of Prematurity: Accuracy of Expert versus Non-Expert Graders. The British Journal of Ophthalmology. 2010;94(3):351-6. Epub 2009/12/04. doi: 10.1136/bjo.2009.166348. PubMed PMID: 19955195; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc3711625.
  22. Thyparampil PJ, Park Y, Martinez-Perez ME, Lee TC, Weissgold DJ, Berrocal AM, et al. Plus Disease in Retinopathy of Prematurity: Quantitative Analysis of Vascular Change. American Journal of Ophthalmology. 2010;150(4):468-75.e2. Epub 2010/07/21. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2010.04.027. PubMed PMID: 20643397; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc2945436.
  23. Paul Chan RV, Williams SL, Yonekawa Y, Weissgold DJ, Lee TC, Chiang MF. Accuracy of Retinopathy of Prematurity Diagnosis by Retinal Fellows. Retina (Philadelphia, Pa). 2010;30(6):958-65. Epub 2010/02/20. doi: 10.1097/IAE.0b013e3181c9696a. PubMed PMID: 20168274; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc2884082.
  24. Muni RH, Kohly RP, Sohn EH, Lee TC. Hand-Held Spectral Domain Optical Coherence Tomography Finding in Shaken-Baby Syndrome. Retina (Philadelphia, Pa). 2010;30(4 Suppl):S45-50. Epub 2010/04/24. doi: 10.1097/IAE.0b013e3181dc048c. PubMed PMID: 20386092.
  25. Muni RH, Kohly RP, Charonis AC, Lee TC. Retinoschisis Detected with Handheld Spectral-Domain Optical Coherence Tomography in Neonates with Advanced Retinopathy of Prematurity. Archives of Ophthalmology (Chicago, Ill : 1960). 2010;128(1):57-62. Epub 2010/01/13. doi: 10.1001/archophthalmol.2009.361. PubMed PMID: 20065217.
  26. Chan RV, Yonekawa Y, Morrison MA, Sun G, Wong RK, Perlman JM, et al. Association Between Assisted Reproductive Technology and Advanced Retinopathy of Prematurity. Clinical Ophthalmology (Auckland, NZ). 2010;4:1385-90. Epub 2010/12/24. doi: 10.2147/opth.s15587. PubMed PMID: 21179223; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc2999553.
  27. Xu XL, Fang Y, Lee TC, Forrest D, Gregory-Evans C, Almeida D, et al. Retinoblastoma Has Properties of a Cone Precursor Tumor and Depends Upon Cone-Specific MDM2 Signaling. Cell. 2009;137(6):1018-31. Epub 2009/06/16. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.03.051. PubMed PMID: 19524506.
  28. Richter GM, Sun G, Lee TC, Chan RV, Flynn JT, Starren J, et al. Speed of Telemedicine vs Ophthalmoscopy for Retinopathy of Prematurity Diagnosis. American Journal of Ophthalmology. 2009;148(1):136-42.e2. Epub 2009/04/21. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2009.02.002. PubMed PMID: 19376496; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc2820880.
  29. Lajoie A, Koreen S, Wang L, Kane SA, Lee TC, Weissgold DJ, et al. Retinopathy of Prematurity Management using Single-Image vs Multiple-Image Telemedicine Examinations. American Journal of Ophthalmology. 2008;146(2):298-309. Epub 2008/06/13. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2008.04.012. PubMed PMID: 18547536; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc2580058.
  30. Boden JH, Myers ML, Lee T, Bushley DM, Torres MF. Effect of Lidocaine Gel on Povidone-Iodine Antisepsis and Microbial Survival. Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. 2008;34(10):1773-5. Epub 2008/09/25. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrs.2008.05.056. PubMed PMID: 18812132.
  31. Dunkel IJ, Lee TC, Shi W, Beaverson KL, Novetsky D, Lyden D, et al. A Phase II Trial of Carboplatin for Intraocular Retinoblastoma. Pediatric Blood & Cancer. 2007;49(5):643-8. Epub 2007/02/16. doi: 10.1002/pbc.21163. PubMed PMID: 17301956.
  32. Chiang MF, Wang L, Busuioc M, Du YE, Chan P, Kane SA, et al. Telemedical Retinopathy of Prematurity Diagnosis: Accuracy, Reliability, and Image Quality. Archives of Ophthalmology (Chicago, Ill : 1960). 2007;125(11):1531-8. Epub 2007/11/14. doi: 10.1001/archopht.125.11.1531. PubMed PMID: 17998515.
  33. Lee TC, Almeida D, Claros N, Abramson DH, Cobrinik D. Cell Cycle-Specific and Cell Type-Specific Expression of Rb in the Developing Human Retina. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 2006;47(12):5590-8. Epub 2006/11/24. doi: 10.1167/iovs.06-0063. PubMed PMID: 17122153.
  34. Elison JR, Cobrinik D, Claros N, Abramson DH, Lee TC. Small Molecule Inhibition of HDM2 Leads to p53-Mediated Cell Death in Retinoblastoma Cells. Archives of Ophthalmology (Chicago, Ill : 1960). 2006;124(9):1269-75. Epub 2006/09/13. doi: 10.1001/archopht.124.9.1269. PubMed PMID: 16966622.
  35. Cobrinik D, Francis RO, Abramson DH, Lee TC. Rb induces a proliferative arrest and curtails Brn-2 expression in retinoblastoma cells. Molecular Cancer. 2006;5:72. Epub 2006/12/14. doi: 10.1186/1476-4598-5-72. PubMed PMID: 17163992; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc1764425.
  36. Chan RV, Lee TC, Chaganti RK, Cestari DM, Kim MT, Lee S. Macular Star Associated with Behcet Disease. Retina (Philadelphia, Pa). 2006;26(4):468-70. Epub 2006/04/11. doi: 10.1097/01.iae.0000238538.28885.df. PubMed PMID: 16603968.
  37. Choy KW, Lee TC, Cheung KF, Fan DS, Lo KW, Beaverson KL, et al. Clinical Implications of Promoter Hypermethylation in RASSF1A and MGMT in Retinoblastoma. Neoplasia (New York, NY). 2005;7(3):200-6. Epub 2005/04/01. doi: 10.1593/neo.04565. PubMed PMID: 15799820; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc1501141.
  38. Abramson DH, Lawrence SD, Beaverson KL, Lee TC, Rollins IS, Dunkel IJ. Systemic Carboplatin for Retinoblastoma: Change in Tumour Size Over Time. The British Journal of Ophthalmology. 2005;89(12):1616-9. Epub 2005/11/22. doi: 10.1136/bjo.2005.072033. PubMed PMID: 16299142; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc1772963.
  39. Lee TC, Lee SW, Dinkin MJ, Ober MD, Beaverson KL, Abramson DH. Chorioretinal Scar Growth After 810-Nanometer Laser Treatment for Retinoblastoma. Ophthalmology. 2004;111(5):992-6. Epub 2004/05/04. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2003.08.036. PubMed PMID: 15121379.
  40. Choy KW, Pang CP, Fan DS, Lee TC, Wang JH, Abramson DH, et al. Microsatellite Instability and MLH1 Promoter Methylation in Human Retinoblastoma. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 2004;45(10):3404-9. Epub 2004/09/29. doi: 10.1167/iovs.03-1273. PubMed PMID: 15452042.
  41. Barbazetto IA, Lee TC, Abramson DH. Treatment of Conjunctival Squamous Cell Carcinoma with Photodynamic Therapy. American Journal of Ophthalmology. 2004;138(2):183-9. Epub 2004/08/04. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2004.04.007. PubMed PMID: 15289124.
  42. Lee TC, Hayashi NI, Dunkel IJ, Beaverson K, Novetsky D, Abramson DH. New Retinoblastoma Tumor Formation in Children Initially Treated with Systemic Carboplatin. Ophthalmology. 2003;110(10):1989-94; discussion 94-5. Epub 2003/10/03. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(03)00669-9. PubMed PMID: 14522776.
  43. Early Treatment For Retinopathy Of Prematurity Cooperative G. Revised indications for the treatment of retinopathy of prematurity: results of the early treatment for retinopathy of prematurity randomized trial. Archives of ophthalmology (Chicago, Ill : 1960). 2003;121(12):1684-94. Epub 2003/12/10. doi: 10.1001/archopht.121.12.1684. PubMed PMID: 14662586.
  44. Barbazetto IA, Lee TC, Rollins IS, Chang S, Abramson DH. Treatment of Choroidal Melanoma Using Photodynamic Therapy. American Journal of Ophthalmology. 2003;135(6):898-9. Epub 2003/06/06. PubMed PMID: 12788137.
  45. Abramson DH, Beaverson K, Sangani P, Vora RA, Lee TC, Hochberg HM, et al. Screening for Retinoblastoma: Presenting Signs as Prognosticators of Patient and Ocular Survival. Pediatrics. 2003;112(6 Pt 1):1248-55. Epub 2003/12/05. PubMed PMID: 14654593.
  46. Abramson DH, Lee TC, Driscoll C. Osteogenic Sarcoma in a Survivor of Metastatic Germline Retinoblastoma: The Possible Influence of Human Growth Hormone. Journal of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. 2002;39(6):347-8. Epub 2002/12/03. PubMed PMID: 12458846.
  47. Gariano RF, Nath AK, D’Amico DJ, Lee T, Sierra-Honigmann MR. Elevation of Vitreous Leptin in Diabetic Retinopathy and Retinal Detachment. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 2000;41(11):3576-81. Epub 2000/09/28. PubMed PMID: 11006255.
  48. Lee TC, Sullenger BA, Gallardo HF, Ungers GE, Gilboa E. Overexpression of RRE-Derived Sequences Inhibits HIV-1 Replication in CEM Cells. The New Biologist. 1992;4(1):66-74. Epub 1992/01/01. PubMed PMID: 1536832.
  49. Sullenger BA, Lee TC, Smith CA, Ungers GE, Gilboa E. Expression of Chimeric tRNA-Driven Antisense Transcripts Renders NIH 3T3 Cells Highly Resistant to Moloney Murine Leukemia Virus Replication. Molecular and Cellular Biology. 1990;10(12):6512-23. Epub 1990/12/01. PubMed PMID: 2247070; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc362928.