About Us

About US



Retina Associates of Kentucky was founded by 
William J. Wood, MD   in Lexington, Kentucky in 1975.  After completing his undergraduate and medical school education at the University of Kentucky's College of Medicine and his residency at the prestigious Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Wood received the Heed Fellowship Award at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary at Harvard University.  He strongly considered returning to the Wilmer Institute, but chose instead to return to his home in Lexington to start his retina practice as well as work teaching as a part-time faculty member of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Kentucky.  He was promoted to Clinical Professor and led the developing retina subsection at the University for many years.  

In establishing the retina practice, Dr. Wood insisted in excellence in everything from the most advanced equipment to the most highly trained surgeons.  He and his partners have insured that every associate that has joined the practice have the highest qualifications, both personally and professionally.  Dr. Wood started the Low Vision Services of Kentucky division of Retina Associates of Kentucky and was the founding chairman of the Macular Degeneration Institute as well.  He has served as study surgeon or clinical investigator in many clinical studies and is recognized in the "Best Doctors in America"® and "America's Top Ophthalmologists"®.  Dr. Wood serves on the Board of Governors of the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins.

Rick D. Isernhagen, MD  joined Dr. Wood at Retina Associates of Kentucky in 1987. 
Dr. Isernhagen completed his undergraduate studies, medical school and medical residency at the University of Oklahoma and his Chief Residency at Dean McGee Eye Institute. Dr. Isernhagen completed his Fellowship at Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute at Johns Hopkins University and Hospital. Dr. Isernhagen graduated in the top 5% of his medical school class and had many options as to where to practice, but it was the beauty of the bluegrass and the chance to work with a strong leader in the field of vitreoretinal disease that made Dr. Isernhagen call Kentucky his home.  Dr. Isernhagen's main treatment and research interest is the care and management of age-related macular degeneration; he has served as Principle Investigator in numerous clinical trials and accumulated many professional awards over the years including Best Doctors in America and America's Top Ophthalmologists. 

Thomas W. Stone, MD joined Drs. Wood and Isernhagen at Retina Associates of Kentucky in 2002.  Dr. Stone completed his undergraduate work at Dartmouth University, attended medical school at the University of Buffalo, and did his residency at Duke University Eye Center. After a year of Chief Residency at Duke, he pursued his fellowship in Vitreo-Retinal Diseases at Emory University.   As he completed his training, Dr. Stone knew that he wanted to be in an established retina practice and was pleased to join such well-respected and accomplished colleagues at Retina Associates of Kentucky.  Dr. Stone has a wide range of professional interests, but mostly enjoys studying and researching the various treatments for uveitis and diabetic retinopathy.  Dr. Stone is Principal Investigator for various clinical trials including the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network and Comparison of AMD Treatments Trial.  He is a member of multiple academic and professional societies including the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Society of Retinal Specialists (ASRS).  He has also collected quite a few professional awards such as the Presidency of the Lexington Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, as well as the Honor Award from both the AAO and ASRS.    

John W. Kitchens, MD joined the highly committed physicians at Retina Associates of Kentucky in 2005.  Dr. Kitchens finished his undergraduate work at the University of Evansville and medical school at Indiana University School of Medicine and his residency at the University of Iowa's Department of Ophthalmology.  He completed his Chief Residency and Fellowship at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.  Dedication to patient care, clinical research and the highly trained doctors are what originally attracted
Dr. Kitchens to Retina Associates of Kentucky.  After speaking with his mentors at Bascom Palmer, Dr. Kitchens knew that Lexington would be the perfect fit for him and his family.  Dr. Kitchens also enjoys speaking nationally and internationally.  The prestige of a practice like Retina Associates of Kentucky is recognized throughout the US and the world.

Todd J. Purkiss, MD, Ph.Dcompleted his doctorate in Perception and Sensory Physiology at the University of Louisville Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, prior to medical school, where he studied human visual processing. He later completed his ophthalmology residency at the University of Louisville, being chosen as Chief Resident in his final year. His fellowship training in Medical Retina was completed at the Duke Eye Center. He is also a physician contractor to the Louisville Veterans Affairs Medical Center and an active member of the Greater Louisville Medical Society.

Belinda Shirkey, MD an honors graduate of the University of Arkansas, served her residency at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital in New York; was the recipient of a Duke University Eye Center Fellowship, and has been honored by the National Eye Institute as a  Howard Hughes Research Scholar. From 1999-2012, she was an Assistant Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology/ New York Eye & Ear Infirmary  Retina Service;  from 2012 until her recent joining of the Retina Associates of Kentucky practice, she was the Fellowship Director/ Vitreoretinal  Surgery and  Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Arizona Medical School in Phoenix. Certified since 1999 by the American Board of Ophthalmology.

Sheila Garcia Santana, MD completed her medical internship at Harvard Medical School, served her residency at the Boston University School of Medicine and served as clinical instructor at Yale University School of Medicine where she did her Vitreoretinal Surgical Fellowship. Dr. Garcia Santana was on the Dean's list in her undergraduate career and has published multiple academic articles and book chapters. Dr. Garcia Santana presented at several national meetings, including the annual meeting for the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). She is a member of The American Society of Retina Specialists and the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology, Dr. Garcia Santana joins Retina Associates of Kentucky as our primary physician and surgeon at our Ashland office, specializing in all aspects of vitreoretinal disease.

Blake A. Isernhagen, MD  completed his undergraduate studies and Doctor of Medicine Degree with Distinction from The University of Oklahoma and was highly recognized in the Alpha Omega Alpha Honorary Medical Society. He completed his Internship and Ophthalmology Residency training at The Dean A. McGee Eye Institute, University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. He then completed advanced Uveitis and Retinal training at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami. Followed by an advanced fellowship in Vitreoretinal Surgery at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada where he served as the distinguished William H. Ross Fellow.


Since the establishment of our award-winning research program in the early 1980's, Retina Associates of Kentucky has participated in numerous national and international clinical trials sponsored by the National Institute of Health and various other organizations and medical groups. Our participation in these trials affords our patients access to what are often the most cutting-edge treatments for retinal diseases and disorders, including those that may not have any available treatments. We are pleased to provide this service not only to our patients but to all of those suffering from blinding retinal conditions around the world. Without such research, there could be no advancement in retinal care. 




If you are interested in information regarding past clinical trials or participation criteria in our current clinical trials, please contact our research department: 
Diana Holcomb - Clinical Research Manager 
phone 859-264-2905 



Fellowship Program  

Retina Associates of Kentucky proudly spotlights our Fellowship Training Program for future Vitreo-Retinal surgeons. Our physicians feel fortunate that they received outstanding training when they started their careers, and are devoted to giving back to the field by training the next generation of retinal specialists.  

Recognized as one of the finest training sites in the nation, each year we interview and recruit some of the finest residents from all over the country to be in our Program. Our fellows are already well trained general eye surgeons when they enter our fellowship, and they have elected to spend an additional two years of training in our field instead of going into practice.  

We are proud to have these bright young physicians accompany our doctors in our clinic and during surgical cases. By teaching and organizing discussion around patients, our doctors are able to offer the most thorough care to even the most challenging eye diseases.  

We encourage you to learn more about each of our fellows: http://www.retinaky.com/Fellowship_Training/