David H. Abramson, MD

Ophthalmic Oncologist

Chief, Ophthalmic Oncology Service, Department of Surgery

Conditions Treated

David H. Abramson, MD -- Chief, Ophthalmic Oncology Service, Department of Surgery
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About Me

I am a board-certified ophthalmologist with specialty training in opthalmic oncology. I am Chief of the Ophthalmic Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the only service of its kind dedicated to ophthalmic oncology in a cancer hospital in the US. Because of our close association with specialists in pediatrics, radiation oncology, and medicine, we are able to offer coordinated, state-of-the-art care with access to novel therapies and clinical trials not available anywhere else in the country.

Ophthalmic oncologists are ophthalmologists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer on the surface of the eye, in the eye, and in the tissues around the eye (the lids and orbit). I have a joint appointment in Surgery, Pediatrics, and Radiation Oncology.

I have had extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers in and around the eye. These cancers are all rare and are usually diagnosed without biopsy, so experience is very important in arriving at the correct diagnosis every time. To help make a diagnosis we use the latest in diagnostic digital imaging and ultrasound, including standardized A and B scan, in addition to high frequency anterior segment ultrasound (“ultrasonic biomicroscopy,” or UBM), OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography), digital imaging and needle biopsy when indicated.

The most common cancer we see is melanoma in the eye, also known as ocular melanoma. We offer the most sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic option for these cancers, including brachytherapy (radioactive material sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters is placed directly into or near a tumor) with radioactive iodine and ruthenium. Our medical physicists and brachytherapy team are internationally respected for their expertise in delivering individually designed treatment for each patient. In collaboration with Memorial Sloan Kettering’s melanoma team, we are now offering a Phase II trial for the first targeted molecule in the treatment of melanoma of the eye (uveal melanoma) that has spread, or metastasized, to another part of the body.

Our retinoblastoma center, with records that go back to 1914, is the longest continually operating center of its kind in the world, with the longest follow-up of the largest number of patients. We have a newly-constructed examination suite dedicated to caring for children with retinoblastoma, which has all the modern equipment used to diagnose and treat retinoblastoma.

I have introduced many new treatments for retinoblastoma that have been adopted by other cancer hospitals worldwide. These treatments include the novel use of chemotherapy delivered around the eye to prevent systemic toxicity of intravenous medication; and in 2006, the use of high concentration — but low dose — chemotherapy delivered directly into the eye via a catheter placed in the groin, administered on an outpatient basis. Our studies on the long-term complications in this disease have been published extensively in the Journal of the American Medical Association as well as ophthalmic and oncology journals.

I have published more than 400 books, chapters, original articles, scientific reviews, audiotapes, and videotapes, and I was the editor of the American Academy’s instruction book on ophthalmic oncology. I have delivered more than 400 lectures worldwide, including in France, Italy, Switzerland, Israel, China, Hong Kong, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, and Argentina.

Among the many honors I have received are awards from the Swiss Ophthalmological Society, The Association for Research in Vision, the Helen Keller Society, and the New York State Ophthalmological Society. I have received many teaching awards, and I have received the Honor Award, the Senior Honor Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  • Clinical Expertise: Retinoblastoma; Ocular Melanomas (Melanoma of the Eye); Uveal Melanoma; Orbital Tumors; Ophthalmic Oncology
  • Awards and Honors: Castle Connolly: New York Magazine Top Doctors (2002-2018)
  • Languages Spoken: English
  • Education: MD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • Residencies: Ophthalmology - Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center
  • Fellowships: Ophthalmology - Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center
  • Board Certifications: Ophthalmology


Abramson, DH, Marr, BP, Brodie, SE, Dunkel, IJ, Palioura, S, Gobin, YP. Opthalmic Artery Chemosurgery for Less Advanced Intraocular Retinoblastoma: Five Year Review, PLoSONE 2012 April 7(4):1-5.

Marr, BP, Hung, C, Gobin, YP, Dunkel, IJ, Brodie, SE, Abramson, DH. Success of intra-arterial chemotherapy (chemosurgery) for retinoblastoma: effect of orbitovascular anatomy. Arch Opthalmol. 2012 Feb; 130(2):180-185

Marr, BP, Brodie, SE, Dunkel, IJ, Gobin, YP, Abramson, DH. Three-drug intra-arterial chemotherapy using simultaneous carboplatine, topotecan, and melphan for intraocular retinoblastoma: preliminary results, Br J. Ophthalmol. 2012 Aug 3. (Epup ahead of print)

Abramson, DH, Gobin, YP, Marr, BP, Dunkel, IJ, Brodie, SE. Intra-arterial chemotherapy for retinoblastoma, Ophthalmology. 2012 Aug;119(8):1720-1721

Friedman, DN, Sklar, CA, Oeffinger, KC, Kernan, NA, Khakoo, Y, Marr, BP, Wolden, SL, Abramson, DH. Long-term medical outcomes in survivors of extra-ocular retinoblastoma: The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) experience. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2013 Apr; 60(4):694-9.Doi: 10.1002/pbc.24280. Epub 2012 Aug21

Gobin, YP, Dunkel, IJ, Marr, BP, Francis, JH, Brodie, SE, Abramson, DH. Combined sequential intravenous and intra-arterial chemotherapy (bridge chemotherapy) for young infants with retinoblastoma. PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e44322

Brodie, SE, Munier, FL, Francis, JH, Marr, BP, Brodie, SE, Gobin, YP. Ophthalmic artery chemosurgery for retinoblastoma prevents m new intraocular tumors. Ophthalmology 2013 Mar; 120(3):560-5. Doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2012.08.023

Liu, CY, Jonna, G, Francis, JH, Marr, BP, Abramson, DH, Brodie, SE. Non-selectivity of ERG reductions in eyes treated for retinoblastoma, Doc Ophthalmol. 2013 Nov 9. (Epub ahead of print)

Abramson, DH. Retinoblastoma: saving life with vision. Annu Rev Med. 2014 Jan 14;65:171-84. Doi: 10.1146/annurev-med-061312-123455.


Visit PubMed for a full listing of David H. Abramson’s journal articles

Pubmed is an online index of biomedical articles maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

Clinical Trials

Research is integral to our mission at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and clinical trials help us discover better forms of patient care and treatment. For you, this could mean access to a new therapy or therapy combination. Click to see a list of the trials I’m currently leading.

Clinical Trials Co-Investigated by David H. Abramson


Most major health insurers offer plans that include MSK as one of their in-network providers. If MSK is in-network, it means all our doctors are too. Medicare and New York State Medicaid also provide benefits for care at MSK.

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