Balancing the Beauty of Aesthetics

Photo by Daniel Smyth


For Jeffrey Nerad, MD, an ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Cincinnati Eye Institute (CEI), surgery truly is an art form. As a child, Dr. Nerad was always intrigued by how things worked, by the intricacies that make a whole. He had a collection of found objects, such as a piece of driftwood or some small part that had fallen off of a car. 

His father was an optometrist and an engineer, and his mother had an artistic flair. One of his uncles, a surgeon, also had an influence on his early life. Dr. Nerad loved science, always knowing he would go into medicine, and the intricacies of the eye drew him like a magnet. 

“There’s a way that function follows form and if you have someone with damaged tissues from an accident or from a tumor, it’s immensely satisfying to be able to put those tissues back together,” says Dr. Nerad. “There’s a certain sense of beauty and proportion and a harmony in the way reconstructive surgeries bring about a cosmetic or aesthetic goal.” 

The patients who require Dr. Nerad’s expertise range from cosmetic needs   – droopy eyelids or puffiness – to serious abnormalities like trauma to the face, congenital abnormalities or tumors behind the eye. 

“One of the fun things about being an eye surgeon is that a lot of the beauty in a face comes from the eyes. My goal is never to make my patient look different; I want them to look more like themselves,” he says. 

Dr. Nerad has a penchant for art, and for collecting interesting pieces to bring home and enjoy. “I found the first piece of my art collection while training in England, where I lived near the British Museum,” he says. “I purchased a clay figurine from a store across from the museum. The figure was from Syria in 2500 BC, and I was amazed I could own something that early.” 

Traveling for lectures and conferences now offers Dr. Nerad the opportunity to scope out more pieces from several countries for his collections, which primarily consist of ancient Chinese pottery and jade from the Neolithic period (5800-2000 BC), and a collection of pre-colonial West African art.  

With more than 30 years in the practice, and eight years with CEI, Dr. Nerad is a veritable institution of ophthalmic knowledge. He has passed his experience on to more than 200 medical residents and a couple dozen fellows. He has lectured in 40 countries, written three textbooks and more than 100 scientific papers, was president of his plastic surgery subspecialty organization and has served on numerous ophthalmology boards. 

“I’m at a point in my career where a lot is routine since I’ve performed the procedures so many times, but I still enjoy meeting new people,” he says. “I may have less to learn in my career, but there will always be more to learn from other people; everyone has an interesting story.”


Cincinnati Eye Institute’s main campus is located at 1945 CEI Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45242. For more information, call 513.984.5133 or visit