Yuka Koinuma has been with Retina Institute of Hawaii since 2011 as an Ophthalmic Technician and is a license registered nurse in Japan. As a native of Japan, she graduated from Hodogaya Nursing School in Yokohama and is trained in respiratory, digestive and infertility surgeries. She has a Nursing Advanced Diploma and is a part of the Nursing Society in Japan. Ms. Koinuma is responsible for technical procedures and study activities with clinical trials, emphasizing on the safety and welfare of the study participant.
The founder and president of RIH, Dr. Michael D. Bennett is also an associate professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine. He trained at the premier Vitreoretinal Surgery division of Emory School of Medicine. He completed a two-year vitreoretinal surgical fellowship and was awarded a prestigious Heed Ophthalmic Foundation Fellowship. After graduating top of his class, Dr. Bennett was inducted into the National Medical Honor Society, Alpha Omega Alpha. Dr. Bennett understands the physical and emotional impacts on his patients and combines state-of-the-art technology with compassionate patient care. He treats diseases of the vitreous, macula and retina, including diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and retinal detachments. His specialties include stem cell research and Hawaii’s first implantable miniature telescope (IMT).
A low vision specialist and licensed doctor of optometry, Dr. Kellen Kashiwa is trained in the examination and management of patients with visual impairments that cannot be corrected with pharmaceutical or surgical interventions, conventional prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. Born and raised in Hawaii, Dr. Kashiwa earned his Doctor of Optometry from Pacific University College of Optometry in Oregon, where he concentrated in low vision and retinal disease. Dr. Kashiwa completed internships in Japan and China, and has seen more than 3,000 patients doing optometric humanitarian work in the Philippines, Peru and Nicaragua. He is a low vision specialist with a forte in new technologies, like the opening of the Human Performance and Sensory Center of Excellence.
A member of the RIH team since 2007, Dr. Clifton S. Otto specializes in the medical treatment of vision-threatening retinal disease such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Dr. Otto has also worked extensively at RIH developing and implementing several national and in-house research studies. Prior to joining RIH, Dr. Otto served for three years as a comprehensive ophthalmologist at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan. Dr. Otto has published several clinical articles, is responsible for two U.S. patents and continues to expand his research interests in a variety of eye-related medical conditions. Dr. Otto’s latest projects include the development of RIH’s own AMD vitamin supplement and implementation of locally based stem cell therapy.
Dr. George Papastergiou brings extensive experience and expertise to RIH. He has been in private practice at the Vlemma Eye Institute since 2000. A prolific researcher, he has published numerous clinical articles. He reviews for Ophthalmology: Journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Archives of Ophthalmology and the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. Dr. Papastergiou is a member of the AAO, ASRS, OSA, PMS, AMA, ASCRSA and GVRS. He completed an ophthalmology residency at the Medical College of Georgia, a vitreoretinal surgical fellowship at Piedmont Hospital, Eye Consultants of Atlanta and an Ophthalmology Research Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, Scheie Eye Institute. Dr. Papastergiou earned his PhD from the Medical School of DUTH, Thrace, Greece, and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Rome, Italy Medical School in 1992.
Prior to joining RIH, Dr. Karl E. Waite served as chief resident of the Nassau University Medical Center. Born and raised in Daytona Beach, Florida, Dr. Waite graduated magna cum laude from the University of South Florida in Tampa. He remained at the university, where he began research in the field of ophthalmology and vitreoretinal disease, and obtained his doctorate from the College of Medicine. He began his surgical career with the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Miami, Florida, and continued his ophthalmology training with Nassau University Medical Center. At the State University of New York at Stonybrook, he improved and restored vision to countless patients using delicate surgical techniques. Dr. Waite’s specialties include the treatment of diabetic retinopathy and retinal detachments.
Debra Shimabukuro brings more than 30 years of professional nursing and administrative experience to her position as chief of clinical operations at RIH. She earned her Bachelor of Nursing degree from the University of Hawaii. Ms. Shimabukuro belongs to ASORN and ASOA, and is a Certified Nurse in the Operating Room. At RIH, she ensures adherence to established clinical protocols, develops and implements employee training initiatives, and provides high-quality patient care.