Campus & Community

Dept. of Ophthalmology awarded blindness prevention grants

2 min read

The Harvard Medical School (HMS) Department of Ophthalmology has been awarded a $110,000 grant from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB). The grant will help support research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of diseases that cause blindness. Henry Willard Williams Professor of Ophthalmology Joan W. Miller, chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and chief of ophthalmology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, will help in leading the research programs.

Over the years, RPB, the world’s leading nongovernment supporter of eye research directed at the prevention, treatment, or eradication of all diseases that threaten vision, has awarded HMS grants totaling $5,245,215. Funding from RPB has supported research at the infirmary and other institutions into the causes of eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, glaucoma, and melanoma.

“This grant allows the Department of Ophthalmology to offer the best treatment to patients by continuing the research that is needed to investigate more factors involved in vision loss,” said Miller.

RPB also recognized the research contributions of two of the most accomplished clinician-scientists of the Ophthalmology Department with individual grant awards. Lois E.H. Smith of Children’s Hospital Boston was granted the RPB Lew R. Wasserman Merit Award for $55,000 in support of her basic science and translational clinical research programs aimed at preventing the neurological deficits and blindness that are associated with premature birth. And David G. Hunter, ophthalmologist-in-chief at Children’s Hospital Boston, was honored with the RPB Walt and Lilly Disney Award for Amblyopia Research. The $50,000 grant will facilitate Hunter’s efforts to develop new clinical tools to improve pediatric vision screening and prevent lifelong visual disability that results from undetected and untreated amblyopia in children.

“With these grant awards, RPB is sponsoring important work that is likely to have great beneficial impact on the lives of prematurely born infants and young children who are at considerable risk for vision loss or impairment,” said Miller.

Founded in 1824, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary is an independent specialty hospital and international leader in providing patient care for disorders of the eye, ear, nose, throat, head, and neck, and a teaching partner of HMS. The School’s Department of Ophthalmology comprises multiple institutions, including Schepens Eye Research Institute, Children’s Hospital Boston, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital. For more information, call (617) 523-7900 or visit