Yao Liu, MD, MS

Yao Liu, MD, MS

Assistant Professor, Director of Teleophthalmology, Glaucoma Service Chief, Glaucoma Fellowship Director

As a clinician-scientist, Dr. Yao Liu leverages new technology to enhance our understanding and management of glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and other vision-threatening eye diseases using imaging, telemedicine, and clinical trials of new medications and surgical devices. Dr. Liu is the Director of the UW Teleophthalmology Program, which aims to prevent blindness by expanding access to innovative eye care.



Selected Appointments and Honors

2022 AUPO Academic Leadership Development Program
2020-2022 Co-Chair, American Glaucoma Society Virtual Research Mini-Symposium
2018-2022 Member, American Glaucoma Society Research Committee
2019-2021 Chair, American Telemedicine Association Ocular Telehealth SIG
2021 ARVO Women’s Leadership Development Program
2019 Outstanding Surgical Instructor, Dept. of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
2017 NIH Training Institute for Dissemination & Implementation Research in Health (TIDIRH)
2017 Chancellor’s Certificate of Recognition for the “Wisconsin Idea” Community Partnership


Glaucoma and cataract surgery

Medical and Surgical Interests

  • Adult and pediatric glaucoma
  • Anterior segment surgery
  • Cataract surgery
  • Glaucoma medical and surgical treatment
  • Ocular imaging
  • Telemedicine

Research Interests

  • Telemedicine for diabetic eye screening
  • Clinical trials of new glaucoma medications and surgical devices
  • Macular pigment as a glaucoma risk factor
  • Clinical and surgical glaucoma management

Research Highlights

Dr. Liu is a National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded clinician-scientist championing telemedicine-based eye screening across Wisconsin and nationwide. Teleophthalmology can greatly increase diabetic eye screening and prevent blindness from diabetes (the leading cause of blindness among working-age U.S. adults). However, this technology remains greatly under-utilized. To address this gap, Dr. Liu worked with community partners to develop Implementation for Sustained Impact in Teleophthalmology (I-SITE), which guides primary care clinics in successfully integrating teleophthalmology into their practice. At Mile Bluff Medical Center in rural Mauston, Wisconsin, I-SITE sustained a 36% increase in diabetic eye screening over 4 years. Dr. Liu is currently testing I-SITE in a NIH-funded multi-center clinical trial among 8 rural health systems in 6 states. Her team is also expanding this work to adapt I-SITE for urban, underserved communities of color in partnership with community stakeholders and federally qualified health centers. In addition, Dr. Liu is studying whether low macular pigment levels are associated with an increased risk of glaucoma in the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (CAREDS2). These studies may provide evidence to support further clinical trials of low-cost dietary supplementation with lutein/zeaxanthin to prevent glaucoma. Her research on teleophthalmology implementation and low-cost interventions for glaucoma seeks to reduce the burden of avoidable blindness and visual impairment in our communities nationwide.

Selected Publications

Implementation for Sustained Impact in Teleophthalmology (I-SITE) online toolkit

Barriers, facilitators, and system-based implementation strategies to increase teleophthalmology use

Scaling up teleophthalmology for diabetic eye screening

Sustaining gains in diabetic eye screening: outcomes from a stakeholder-based implementation program for teleophthalmology in primary care


Fellowship: Glaucoma, University of California, Davis Eye Center, Sacramento, CA

Residency: Harvard Ophthalmology Residency Program/Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Internship: Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Medical School: Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA


For the most up-to-date publication list for Dr. Yao Liu, click here.

Selected Grants and Monetary Awards


Implementation of Teleophthalmology in Rural Health Systems (I-TRUST) Study (clinical trial)
NIH/NEI UG1 EY032446
Role: Principal Investigator/Study Chair

Clarifying the Optimal Application of Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty Therapy (COAST) Trial (clinical trial)
NIH/NEI UG1 EY031654 (Univ. of Pittsburgh, PI: Wisniewski SR, Goundappa, BK; West Virginia Univ., PI: Realini, AD)
Role: Principal Investigator (Site)

Advancing I-SITE for African-American Communities
Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment
Role: Principal Investigator

TeleOjo: Advancing Integration of Teleophthalmology in Latinx Communities
Unrestricted Grant from Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc. to the Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison
Role: Co-Principal Investigator with Mora Pinzón, M

Establish a Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System for the Nation
CDC U01 DP006444 (University of Chicago NORC, PI: Rein, D)
Role: Consultant


Advancing Integration of Tele-ophthalmology for Diabetic Retinopathy in Rural, Multi-payer Settings
NIH/NEI K23 EY026518
Role: Principal Investigator

Macular Pigment in Aging and Disease (Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (CAREDS2))
NIH/NEI R01 EY025292 (PI: Mares, JA and Blodi, BA)
Role: Co-Investigator

Establish a Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System for the Nation
CDC U01 DP006074 (University of Chicago NORC, PI: Rein, D)
Role: Subaward Co-Principal Investigator with Klein, BE and Klein, R

Advancing Tele-ophthalmology for Diabetic Retinopathy in Rural Wisconsin
Wisconsin Partnership Program New Investigator Program
Role: Principal Investigator

Macular Pigment and Glaucoma Incidence in CAREDS2
American Glaucoma Society Mentoring for Advancement of Physician-Scientists (MAPS) Award
Role: Principal Investigator

Macular Pigment Levels as a Glaucoma Risk Factor in CAREDS2
American Glaucoma Society MAPS Award
Role: Principal Investigator

Aerie Glaucoma Trial – PG324-CS301 (clinical trial): Netarsudil/latanoprost
Aerie Pharmaceuticals
Role: Principal Investigator (Site)

Bausch and Lomb Glaucoma Trial – Protocol 770 (clinical trial): Latanoprostene bunod
Bausch and Lomb Inc.
Role: Principal Investigator (Site)