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Michael Szkarlat

Eversight is a nonprofit eye bank network with local roots, global reach and an audacious vision—to one day achieve a world without blindness. To make progress toward our vision, we need dedicated team members who can examine our current practices and the assess the ever-evolving needs of those we serve, so that we can continue to get better every day.

With both clinical and partner development skillsets, Michael Szkarlat has the exceptional ability to look deep within Eversight and see the potential for innovation from small- to large-scale improvements that have an impact on the important work we do and the lives we touch. An example of a recent small-scale improvement is evaluating our internal wet lab organizational procedure to make it more efficient for all departments involved. We host multiple wet labs a year, ranging from one-on-one to large-scale, 30-person trainings, all which require tissue, equipment and staff. Szkarlat saw a gap in the organizational process across the multiple departments and implemented a new process so we can work more efficiently and provide better service internally and externally.

After five years working in our clinical operations, Szkarlat identified, tested and implemented ways to save precious time when preparing corneal tissue for transplantation. He will present this improved process at the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) Cornea and Eye Banking Forum in November in a session titled “An Alternative Time Efficient Method to Specular Microscopy Following DMEK Preparation using Trypan Blue Staining.” The study demonstrates a more comprehensive method of endothelial assessment that compliments cell density information obtained via specular, as well as a significant time savings in DMEK processing estimated at 634 technician hours per year at Eversight alone. This process improvement he championed will help eye bankers nationwide improve theirs, and effectively make eye banking more efficient.

Szkarlat’s personal drive to never stop learning is contagious. In 2021, he instituted a clinical training plan for the Eversight Partner Relations team to give everyone better knowledge of eye anatomy, common anterior segment procedures, history of corneal transplantation and basic outcome measures of transplant surgery, all while implementing a moderately competitive game of Jeopardy for skills retention. This is only the beginning of his continuing education coursework for this team, and will include further hands-on training, annual competencies, quarterly lectures and journal article library—all created and maintained by Szkarlat. This training and continuing education will help the team better understand the surgeries they support and become better partners for Eversight surgeons and their patients.

Szkarlat’s passion for innovative training and education does not end within Eversight. He works with Eversight’s Global Development team to create an international eye bank development curriculum so eye bankers and surgeons around the world can learn the latest clinical techniques. He recently partnered with Moria Surgical to present a live webinar on tissue preparation to 145 international ophthalmologists and eye bankers. Thanks to his commitment to innovation in clinical education, attendees can now provide these life-changing solutions to surgeons and patients.

“As eye bankers, we are in this incredible position to be of service to the generous people who made the decision to donate, to those in need of a corneal transplant, and to future generations through research and innovation. I am grateful and fortunate to be doing something I am passionate about, and to be working in the unique field of vision care.”

– Michael Szkarlat