Jonathan Lass, MD

Charles I Thomas Professor and Vice Chair for Academic Affairs
Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
School of Medicine

Member of the Center for Anterior Segment Diseases and Surgery in the University Hospitals Eye Institute

Director of the UH Eye Image Analysis Reading Centers 

Primary appointment - Ophthalmology

Secondary appointment - Population/Quantitative Health Sciences

Teaching Information

Teaching Interests

Over his entire career Dr. Lass has been strongly dedicated to medical student and resident education. He served as program director of the residency program for three periods of time while chair since 1993 and most recently from 2009 until 2014. He remains committed to teaching the next generation of ophthalmologists to be the finest in their medical and surgical skills and their compassion for their patients.

Research Information

Research Interests

Dr. Jonathan H. Lass is recognized as an Expertscape Expert in Corneal Endothelium for being in the top 1% of scholars with published work about Corneal Endothelium over the past 10 years. He has research interests in the area of corneal function and immunology, genetics, cornea image analysis, and clinical trials of corneal disease, with over 200 publications with active funding from the NEI for these studies. He contributed to major advances in corneal preservation and transplantation including the NEI-funded Cornea Donor Study examining the effect of donor age on transplant survival and endothelial cell loss. This study reported its 10-year findings showing that donor age did not impact survival of the transplant for the great majority of donor corneas available in the United States. He then served as the study chair of the NEI funded multi-center prospective trial, the Cornea Preservation Time Study, which examined the effect of preservation time of the donor on graft survival and endothelial cell loss following Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK). The study found that corneas could be preserved longer than previously practiced out to 11 days of storage without impacting graft success and endothelial cell loss. Numerous other factors were also discovered impacting DSAEK outcomes to guide best practices presented in 12 publications that have come out since 2015 in high profile journals. He is now the study chair the NEI-funded multi-center prospective clinical trial, the Diabetes Endothelial Keratoplasty Study (DEKS) that will examine the impact of diabetes and its severity in the donor and recipient on Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) outcomes. With diabetes in nearly 40% of the donor pool, determining which donors with diabetes are suitable and which are not is a very important question to address.

Awards and Honors

Senior Honor Award
American Academy of Ophthalmology
R. Townley Paton Award
Eye Bank Association of America
Castroviejo Medal
Cornea Society

Professional Memberships

Medical Director, Eversight Ohio
Board Member, Cleveland Eye Bank Foundation
Board Member, Eversight
Senior Editor, Journal of the Cornea Society


Boston University
Master of Arts
Boston University

Residencies, Internships and Fellowships

Ophthalmology Fellowship
Massachusetts Eye And Ear Infirmary
Ophthalmology Residency
Boston Medical Center
Rotating Internship
Mount Auburn Hospital

Additional Information

Dr. Lass joined the faculty at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the medical staff of University Hospitals in 1979 and became chair of the department in 1993. He served for more than 20 years in this capacity, building its clinical programs to institute status at University Hospitals providing comprehensive and subspecialty care in all fields of ophthalmology, more than tripling the faculty and providing care throughout Northeast Ohio, overseeing residency training with one of the largest programs in the country, and leading the department and the larger visual sciences research center, collaborating with over 30 investigators in both clinical and basic science departments to be 5th in the country in National Eye Institute (NEI) funding in 2013.

He is an avid cellist and founding member of the World Doctors Orchestra since 2008. The orchestra has given concerts around the world and raised over 1 million euros for local charities. He most recently performed with the group in Paris and Houston in 2019 with the next concert post Covid planned with the group in Frankfurt and Koblenz, Germany this coming November.

Dr. Lass is certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.