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Our Ophthalmology Professionals


Paul R Mitchell, MD

Paul R. Mitchell, M.D., was raised in the nearby community of Worcester, Massachusetts, before receiving his Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, in 1966.  He graduated from the George Washington University Medical School in Washington, D.C., in 1970 and completed his surgical internship at the Dartmouth Medical School/Mary Hitchcock Hospital in Hanover, New Hampshire in 1971.  This was followed by two years of service in the U.S. Public Health Service in Claremore, Oklahoma.  He completed a Residency in Ophthalmology at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, PA in 1976.  His Fellowship in Pediatric Ophthalmology was completed in Washington, D.C., in 1977, at the Children's National Medical Center with Dr. Marshall M. Parks, M.D., after which Dr. Mitchell joined Children's Eye Care, P.C., in Hartford.  Dr. Mitchell is Senior Attending Surgeon and Director of Ophthalmology at Connecticut Children's Medical Center and at Hartford Hospital.  He is Assistant Clinical Professor in Surgery (Ophthalmology) and Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut Health Center and on staff at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center where he evaluates premature infants for retinopathy of prematurity.

For the thirteenth consecutive year, Dr. Mitchell has been selected by his peers in The Best Doctors in America listing.  This listing is based on an exhaustive survey in which more then 35,000 doctors throughout the United States were asked to rate the surgical and clinical abilities of the doctors in their areas of specialization.  For this reason, inclusion in Best Doctors in America is a singular honor.  Dr. Mitchell is an active member of numerous medical and ophthalmologic societies, including the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Ophthalmological Society, the New England Ophthalmological Society the International Strabismological Association, the Connecticut Society of Eye Physicians and American Medical Writers Association.

Since 1979 Dr. Mitchell has been an editor and contributor to Duane's Clinical Ophthalmology, and comprehensive 6 volume physician reference text in ophthalmology used world-wide.  As a medical illustrator, Dr. Mitchell has published several hundred drawings at various eye disorders and surgical procedures.

At Children's Eye Care, PC, Dr. Mitchell's special interests to include surgery for abnormal head postures (head tilt) nystagmus, or fluttering of the eyes, surgery for congenital glaucoma and surgery for adult and child eye muscle disorders.

Peter G. Walden,MD

Dr Walden grew up in Manchester Connecticut. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Tufts University in 1975. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Connecticut in 1979 and interned at St Francis Hospital in Hartford Connecticut. For his residency in Ophthalmology he went to Pittsburgh and stayed there for his fellowship year in pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus.

Dr Walden is a clinical professor of surgery (ophthalmology) and pediatrics at the University of Connecticut. He is on the active staff of the Connecticut Children's Medical Center. He is certified by the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.

He still lives in his hometown of Manchester, Connecticut and has three children.


Christopher J Kelly, MD

Christopher J Kelly MD grew up in Schenectady New York and attended college at Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Dr Kelly graduated cum laude with a degree in biology and went to the University of Chicago where he received a master's degree from the biological sciences division. After deciding to pursue a career in medicine, he enrolled in Harvard Medical School. Internship was completed at Harvard's New England Deaconess Hospital.

Dr Kelly trained in ophthalmology at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, serving as chief resident in his last year. His subspecialty training in pediatric ophthalmology was completed at Duke University under Dr. Edward Buckley.

 Dr Kelly currently lives in Glastonbury with his wife and their three young children.

 Marnie C. Smith, O.D.

Marnie C. Smith, O.D. was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  She attended Providence College in Rhode Island where was awarded a division I volleyball scholarship.  She graduated from Providence College with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 1995.  Dr. Smith earned her Doctorate of Optometry at the New England College of Optometry in Boston, Massachusetts.  She graduated in 1999 with clinical honors in pediatrics and contact lenses.  Her older brother is a podiatrist in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Smith’s internships were in Pediatric Eye Care and Primary Eye Care at the New England Eye Institute in Boston, Massachusetts affiliated with the New England College of Optometry and at the Veteran’s Administration hospital at White River Junction, Vermont. 

 After graduation, Dr. Smith worked in Springfield, Massachusetts at Springfield Optometric Associates before moving to Cape Cod where she worked at Bass River Optometrics in Orleans and Chatham, Massachusetts.  She then opened her own practice in Harwich, Massachusetts.  She moved to Connecticut to be closer to her husband’s family.  She was married in August of 2005 in South Carolina.

Dr. Smith enjoys outdoor activities, tennis and mountain biking.  She lives with her husband and daughter in Avon, Connecticut.


Karen E. McPherson, O.D.



Dr. McPherson attended the Ohio State University for her undergraduate education in Zoology and earned her Doctor of Optometry degree at the Ohio State University College of Optometry in 1995.  While in optometry school, Dr. McPherson participated in SVOSH (Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity) Missions – One in Costa Rica and two in Ecuador – providing eye care and glasses to underserved populations.  Her clinical experiences included pediatric and binocular vision services as well as an externship at the Chillicothe, Ohio Veteran’s Administration Hospital.


After graduation, Dr. McPherson began optometric practice providing family eye care in Memphis, Tennessee.  She relocated to Ohio and Michigan in 1999, continuing her practice there.  She moved to Connecticut and joined Children’s Eye Care in July 2007.  She is an active member of the American Optometric Association and the Ohio State University Alumni Association.


Dr. McPherson enjoys spending time with her family - husband Craig, who is a scientist with Pfizer and daughter Erin, who wants "to be an optometrist like mommy" when she grows up.




Maria F. Varela, O.D.



Maria Varela is another one of our Optometrists, with a specialty in Pediatrics. Dr. Varela joined our practice in July of 2012 and has been a great addition to our group. Dr. Varela earned her Bachelor of Science degree at Syracuse University and then went to Boston, MA to attain her Doctorate at the New England College of Optometry (NECO) in 2007. She was one of two doctors selected amongst hundreds of applicants for a pediatric residency in 2008.   Her training included studying pediatrics at the prestigious medical facilities of Tuft's Children's Hospital and Boston Medical Center, among other medical centers.   While at NECO, Dr. Varela stood out among her colleagues with the Outstanding Achievment in Recognition of Pediatrics and the Behaviorale Schwartz Award.


Dr. Varela is orginally from Long Island, New York. She currently resides in West Hartford with her husband and her baby daughter. Dr. Varela is an avid runner and hopes to continue racing competitively.