Dr. Neal Atebara
Class of 1982
Dr. Neal Atebara is a retina surgeon in private practice at the Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu. He takes care of patients who have diseases of the retina, such as retinal detachments, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. The retina is an important part of the eye, analogous to the photographic film in a camera. If the retina is damaged, then the person cannot see, so most retinal conditions are serious and sight-threatening, often requiring urgent care.
As a student at Waiakea High School, he felt very fortunate to have benefitted from many dedicated and enthusiastic teachers. In high school he was interested in various things, including science, engineering, architecture, and the visual arts. During a summer science camp in Hilo he spent time on the UKIRT telescope on Mauna Kea and studied the nature of the light emitted from a planetary nebula called NGC 6369, which is located near the Orion constellation. Encouraged by his science teacher, Mrs. Netlie Yokoyama, he entered his project at the Hawaii State Science and Engineering Fair in his senior year, and it was awarded first place.
Encouraged by this experience, he pursued a career in science, majoring in biology at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., graduating in 1986. He decided to go into medicine as a career and, still fascinated by the visual arts, decided on ophthalmology as a specialty from a desire to help those with sight-threatening eye conditions. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1991, continued his training in ophthalmology at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, followed by a two-year retina fellowship at the Barnes Retina Institute of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Neal returned to Hawaii in 1997, working for another retina specialist for the first two years, and then started his own practice at the Queen’s Medical Center in 2000. He continues to do clinical research and teaching at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine. In recent years he has become very active with the Hawaii Academy of Science, the organization that runs the Hawaii State Science and Engineering Fair. In his spare time, he still enjoys painting and photography but spends most of his time with his wife Fay and two children, 4-year-old Matthew and 2-year-old Mitchell. He has recently become interested in gardening with his son Matthew at their home in Manoa Valley.
Dr. Atebara in the operating room at the Queen’s Medical Center. He is performing a vitrectomy procedure to repair a detached retina, a surgery that takes about an hour.