Dr. Rao was born in Syracuse, New York and was raised in New Jersey and Wisconsin. She was selected among the top 40 senior high school students in Wisconsin to complete a combined undergraduate and medical school degree (UW Medical Scholars program) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During medical school, she also completed a Masters in Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with an emphasis on Epidemiology/Biostatistics and program planning/evaluation.
Dr. Rao completed her internship and ophthalmology residency at William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan. She then had the privilege to do her 2- year Adult and Pediatric Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellowship at the world renowned Associated Retinal Consultants/William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan, where she trained with 11 outstanding faculty. During her fellowship, she worked closely with Dr. George Williams and the Academy of Ophthalmology on publishing several early big data research projects with the IRIS Registry, the world’s largest eye database. She received the Raymond Margherio Award at the 50th Annual Retina Society on IRIS Registry research focused on age-related macular degeneration and anti-vascular endothelial growth (Anti VEGF) therapy. After her fellowship, she worked on faculty as an assistant professor at the Emory Eye Center and Grady Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, where she focused on telemedicine retinopathy of prematurity screening development and was awarded the Research to Prevent Blindness IRIS Grant to evaluate the rates and timing of cataract surgery after pediatric vitrectomies.
Dr. Rao is a board-certified ophthalmologist by the American Board of Ophthalmology. She is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Retina Specialists.
Dr. Rao specializes in all aspects of adult and pediatric vitreoretinal disorders and surgery, including retinal detachments, macular degeneration, diabetes, macular holes, epiretinal membranes, artery/vein occlusions, as well as inherited/acquired pediatric disorders, including retinopathy of prematurity, familial exudative vitreoretinopathy, Coats Disease, persistent fetal vasculature and trauma.
Her primary research interests include “big data” analysis to better understand risk factors and clinical outcomes of several adult and pediatric vitreoretinal diseases to aid in widespread clinical practice patterns. She also has special clinical interests in pediatric vitreoretinal diseases and helping translate telemedicine screening and treatment of adult and pediatric retinal disease to areas of outreach.
On a personal note, Dr. Rao enjoys spending time with her family, running and hiking.