About Joseph Rizzo, MD

Dr. Joseph Rizzo sees complex neuro-ophthalmic disorders by referral within New England and worldwide. His clinical expertise informs his research, and he devotes a major portion of his professional focus to developing new therapeutic options for patients with vision disorders.

After obtaining his MD from Louisiana State University, Dr. Rizzo completed his neurology residency at Tufts University/New England Medical Center and an ophthalmology residency at Boston University. Subsequently, he joined the HMS Department of Ophthalmology as a Clinical Fellow in Neuro-Ophthalmology and has served as a full-time faculty member since 1986.

Each year, Dr. Rizzo supervises and teaches three clinical fellows and eight residents in the basic evaluation and management of neuro-ophthalmic disorders. As Director of the Neuro-Ophthalmology Service, he also designs and provides oversight for the fellowship program in Neuro-Ophthalmology. For more than 25 years, he directed the Neuro-Ophthalmology section of the Lancaster Course in Ophthalmology, which is the oldest and largest educational course that is designed for residents-in-training. He also serves as Director of Harvard Ophthalmology Alumni. 

Departments, Centers, & Programs:

Clinical Interests:



Mass Eye and Ear
243 Charles St.
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-523-7900

Medical Education

  • MD, Louisiana State University School of Medicine
  • Residency, Boston Medical Center
  • Residency, Tufts Medical Center
  • Fellowship, Massachusetts Eye and Ear***

American Board Certifications

  • Neurology, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • Ophthalmology, American Board of Ophthalmology


Dr. Rizzo dedicates his research to studying the mechanisms of vision loss, improving diagnostic methods, and developing new treatments for blinding diseases. In the late 1980s, he founded the Boston Retinal Implant Project to develop a retinal prosthesis and offer a new therapeutic option for patients who have acquired blindness. His clinical research focuses primarily on the study of optic neuritis/multiple sclerosis, ischemic optic neuropathy, pseudotumor cerebri, and giant cell arteritis.


  • 1. Rizzo JF. Unraveling the Enigma of Nonarteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. J Neuroophthalmol. 2019 Dec; 39(4):529-544. 

    2. Yoon MK, Rizzo JF. Giant Cell Arteritis in Black Patients: Do We Know How Rare It Is? JAMA Ophthalmol. 2019 Aug 08. 

    3. Douglas VP, Douglas KAA, Rizzo JF, Chwalisz BK. Case report: Orbital myositis triggering oxygen-responsive cluster headache. Cephalalgia. 2019 07 25; 333102419865974.

    4. Gaier ED, Wang M, Gilbert AL, Rizzo JF, Cestari DM, Miller JB. Quantitative analysis of optical coherence tomographic angiography (OCT-A) in patients with non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) corresponds to visual function. PLoS One. 2018; 13(6):e0199793.

    5. Mansouri B, Roznik M, Rizzo JF, Prasad S. Rehabilitation of Visual Loss: Where We Are and Where We Need to Be. J Neuroophthalmol. 2018 Jun; 38(2):223-229.

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