Prof Charles McGhee

Cornea and Cataract Surgeon

Prof Charles McGhee

Cornea and Cataract Surgeon

“The best clinical practice in ophthalmology requires significant experience informed by the highest-quality, up-to-date, clinical research.”

– Prof Charles McGhee, ONZM MB BSc PhD DSc FRCS FRANZCO FRCOphth

Prof Charles McGhee’s professional background

Discover more about this New Zealand eye expert below

Professor Charles McGhee ONZM is a Consultant Ophthalmic surgeon with more than 25 years of experience. He specialises in corneal diseases including keratoconus and corneal dystrophies. He has performed more than 1000 corneal transplants and has pioneered many surgical techniques including corneal stem cell transplants and minimally invasive surgery for iris tumours. He has a longstanding subspecialty interest in cataract surgery, the management of complex cataracts and reconstruction of the anterior segment of the eye following trauma.

He is Professor and Chair of Ophthalmology and Director of the New Zealand National Eye Centre, University of Auckland. He has also been a Senior Consultant Eye Surgeon to Auckland District Health Board since 1999. His clinical research on eye diseases and ocular surgery has produced more than 400 scientific papers resulting in numerous international invited lectures and awards. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand (FRSNZ) and international recognition includes:

  • Ranked in 100 most influential people in ophthalmology in the world (Ophthalmologists Magazine)
  • Past President, Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology representing 83,000 ophthalmologists
  • Elected Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for contributions to ophthalmology
Principal Qualifications:
  • MBChB Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery
  • BSc (Hons) First Class Honours in pathology and eye pathology
  • PhD Doctor of Philosophy: assessment of excimer laser surgical techniques
  • DSc Doctor of Science: imaging and treating anterior segment eye diseases
  • FRCS Fellow of Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (est. 1599)
  • FRCOphth Fellow of Royal College of Ophthalmologists (UK)
  • FRANZCO Fellow of Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists
  • Combined medical and science degrees (1976-1983) at the University of Glasgow, including a research attachment to Harvard’s Howe Laboratory, graduating with 1st Class Honours
  • Specialist training as a registrar and senior registrar in Ophthalmology (1986-1992) at the Tennant Institute of Ophthalmology and Glasgow Teaching Hospitals, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Advanced Sub-Specialist training (1990-1991) in corneal and anterior segment disorders (cornea, conjunctiva, lids, iris and cataract) Royal Perth Hospital & Lions Eye Institute, Western Australia
  • Consultant Ophthalmologist and Professor of Ocular Therapeutics (1993-96), Sunderland, England, Professor of Ophthalmology and Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon (1996-1999), Dundee, Scotland
Prof McGhee’s specialisations

Corneal disease and transplantation

Prof. Charles McGhee is especially interested in corneal diseases such as keratoconus, corneal dystrophies, corneal transplantation and complex anterior segment reconstruction following trauma. More than 70 international and NZ ophthalmologists have pursued clinical research or advanced 1-2 year corneal fellowship training under his mentorship. He is one of the most experienced corneal surgeons in Aotearoa – New Zealand.

Cataract surgery

Routine and complex cataract surgery is also a key special interest of Prof McGhee with more than 30 years experience in phacoemulsification techniques. He has personally completed several thousand procedures. Surgical risk stratification, minimising complications and maximising outcomes of cataract surgery is one of his major clinical and research interests. He has been invited to deliver many keynote lectures and teaching courses on the subject at international conferences

Iris tumours and iris reconstruction

Prof McGhee has had an interest in ocular melanoma since undergraduate days – particularly melanoma of the iris and conjunctiva. He provides a nation-wide tertiary referral service for ocular melanoma at Eye Institute and Auckland District Health Board. He has developed a number of minimally invasive surgical techniques to remove iris tumours and newer approaches to restore the iris after surgery or trauma – including the use of artificial irises.

Charles lives with his two demanding Burmese cats, near the water in the Eastern Bays. Having played in a number of bands during university days he continues to play electric blues guitar, with occasional public performances, but appreciates he is now highly unlikely to become a rock-star. Always interested in art he has undertaken a number of courses and continues to paint, sculpt and photograph when opportunity allows. Prior to the pandemic, he enjoyed exploring the major galleries, museums and architecture of the world’s older cities.

Associations & memberships

Fellow: Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (est. 1599)
Fellow: Royal College of Ophthalmologists, United Kingdom
Fellow: Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists
Fellow: Royal Society of New Zealand – Te Apārangi
Director: New Zealand National Eye Centre, University of Auckland
President: Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (2017-19)
President: Academy of Asia Pacific Professors of Ophthalmology (2014 -)
Life President: British Society for Refractive Surgery

Chair: Australia and New Zealand Cornea Society (2015-18)
Chair XXIV: Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis, limited to 70 international members
Member: International Intraocular Implant Club (IIIC), limited to 250 international members
Member: Fred Hollows Foundation New Zealand Board of Trustees
Director: Clinical Director of Ophthalmology Services: Auckland District Health Board (99-06)
Editor: Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, Editor in Chief (2003-2010)
Assoc. Editor: Asia Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology

Awards by International Organisations

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO)
2000 – Dame Ida Mann Memorial Lecture: for research related to basic science
2009 – Sir Norman Gregg Medal Lecture: the highest award for clinical research
Australasian Corneal Society
2006 – Douglas Coster Medal: for contributions to corneal disease and transplantation
Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO)
2011 – De Ocampo Medal Lecture: the APAO highest award for excellence in research
International Council of Ophthalmology at World Ophthalmology Congress, Tokyo
2014 – Mark Tso Golden Apple Award: the Asia-Pacific best teacher in ophthalmology
Asia Cornea Society
2018 – Asia Cornea Society Foundation Medal: contributions to corneal disease and surgery
Chinese Ophthalmological Society
2019 – International Gold Award: contributions to world eye care & Chinese ophthalmology
Recognition in Aotearoa-New Zealand
2008 – Peter Gluckman Medal Lecture for sustained excellence in academia (UOA)
2010 – Finalist New Zealander of the Year Awards 2010
2019 – Awarded ONZM in Queen’s Birthday Honours for contributions to NZ ophthalmology