Featured Faculty Fridays: Varun Malhotra, MD


The Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science is excited about our newest recruit, glaucoma specialist Varun Malhotra, MD.  Dr. Malhotra has been interested in medicine since he was a child, watching his physician mother practice.  “In college, I explored other options and fields to make sure my interest was genuine,” he explains.  “My heart and my mind always came back to medicine.”

Dr. Malhotra became interested in ophthalmology after watching his first cataract surgery while attending New York University Medical School.  “It was so beautiful, so precise, and gave such quick gratification to the patient.  From then on, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”  He went on to perform his ophthalmology residency at New York University as well, where he made the decision to specialize in glaucoma.  “To me, it’s the most fascinating disease in ophthalmology.  Glaucoma affects 2% of Americans over the age of 40, and we really have only begun to scratch the surface of learning about it,” he states.  “It is perhaps the most active area of research within ophthalmology.  The constant innovation in research and treatment is what keeps me motivated and interested.”

When asked why he decided to join our department, Dr. Malhotra replies, “I saw an opportunity at the University of Chicago to join a growing and innovative department that is primed to lead patient care and research discovery in the future.  I wanted to be a part of that team and to help contribute to future advances in all aspects of ophthalmology.”  Dr. Malhotra enjoys the ability to exercise his skill sets as both an active clinician as well as a surgeon on a daily basis.  “It feels wonderful when patients come back seeing well after cataract surgery or on treatment for glaucoma—that keeps me going,” he states, and then adds, “I want to keep people seeing well!”

What would people be most surprised to learn about you? “I listen to a surprising amount of electronic and house music along with many other types of music.  I have been to over 60 concerts!”

Where can you be found on the weekends? “I love hiking, being active, cooking, and love to travel wherever and whenever I can.”

What do you think you would be doing if you hadn’t gone into ophthalmology? “I would be a zoologist or running a biotechnology company.”

Any final thoughts? “This is a great time for ophthalmology—so much progress is being made in the treatment of sight-threatening diseases like age-related macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, and of course glaucoma.  I think the next several years will bring significant changes in the way we evaluate and treat these diseases and I am excited for the future.”

To make an appointment with Dr. Varun Malhotra, please call 773-702-3937.