Jonathan Trobe, MD

Professor, Ophthalmology
Professor, Neurology
Director, Neuro-Ophthalmology


I was born in the United States, but my father’s social service work after World War II took the family abroad, where I remained until my college days. We lived in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, and Brazil, so I learned to speak and write German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

I came home to the United States in 1960 to attend Harvard College and then Harvard Medical School. Along with my medical school classmates, I was drafted into the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. I was fortunate to be admitted to the Air Force, and served 2 years as an ophthalmologist at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, DC. There I had the privilege of caring for military dependents residing in the capital area and flown in from all over the world. Among them were pilots shot down over Vietnam, placed in solitary confinement, and deprived of light for months. I was relieved to discover that that terrible ordeal had not cost them any enduring visual problems!

My ophthalmology training had occurred at Wills Eye Hospital/Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. After leaving the Air Force, I completed a fellowship in neuro-ophthalmology at the University of Miami and accepted a faculty position in that specialty at the University of Florida (in Gainesville). I soon decided that I needed more training in neurology, so I gave up my faculty position to enter a residency program in neurology at the University of Miami (Florida). When that was completed in 1986, I came to the University of Michigan, where I have been ever since.

My research has covered a wide spectrum of neuro-ophthalmic entities, as well as studies of utilization of health care personnel and application of clinical trial data to medical practice. In 2001, I was fortunate to be appointed editor of the Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology, the leading journal in my field, serving until 2009. I have written and taught widely around the world and authored nearly 200 peer-reviewed scholarly articles. For the American Academy of Ophthalmology, I authored The Physician’s Guide to Eye Care, a widely used textbook. I have also authored The Eyes Have It (link is external), a web-based and mobile application designed to teach non-ophthalmologist providers and assess their ophthalmic knowledge. I am the author of a 2-day case-based interactive course in neuro-ophthalmology that has been conducted in many teaching programs in ophthalmology in the United States and across the planet. It was later certified as an official course offering of the European Neuro-Ophthalmology Society (EUNOS). I am the ophthalmology editor for UpToDate, the largest online resource for medical information in the world, and I serve as neuro-ophthalmology editor for Neurology Medlink, an online resource in neurology. 

Areas of Interest

Visual fields, optic nerve diseases, visuospatial manifestations of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.

Clinical Interests

Evaluation of patients with visual, eye movement, eyelid, and pupillary disturbances arising from optic neuritis, ischemic optic neuropathy, central nervous system tumors and strokes, cranial nerve palsies, myasthenia gravis and hysterical visual loss


Medical School or Training

  • Harvard Medical School, 1968


  • Wills Eye Hospital, Ophthalmology, PA, 1972
  • Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami, Neuro-Ophthalmology, FL, 1977
  • University of Miami - Mailman Center for Child Development, Neurology, FL, 1986

Board Certification

  • Neurology
  • Ophthalmology

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