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Dr. Rebecca Stacy brings a sense of determination to her work at Mass. Eye and Ear. As a member of the Neuro-Ophthalmology Service, she provides care for patients with optic nerve disease, double vision, and tumors and inflammation that affect the neurological aspects of vision. She has particular clinical expertise with temporal arteritis, an inflammatory disorder of the large blood vessels in the head, which can cause profound vision loss.
Also a neuroscientist, Dr. Stacy is interested in “the many unknowns” that still hinder our understanding of neurological diseases, including those that compromise vision. This drive to discover new therapies and treatments also informs the care she provides to patients.
“Some neuro-ophthalmological diseases, such as strabismus (“crossed” eyes) or certain types of optic neuritis can be treated,” notes Dr. Stacy, “but there are many diagnoses where the cause is still a mystery. It can be frustrating for patients to hear that their disease has no known cause. That lack of clarity frustrates me, too,” she says.
“Fortunately, many patients are reassured knowing that their disease has a name – that, and the knowledge that we’re working every day on scientific advances that might help them in the future.” One such patient was told he had a particular type of inherited optic nerve disease. Although there is no current treatment, he was relieved he had a name to his disease and encouraged that research at Mass. Eye and Ear may help him in the future.
When not seeing patients in her neuro-ophthalmology practice, Dr. Stacy spends her time in the hospital's David G. Cogan Laboratory of Ophthalmic Pathology, where she is the Associate Director. Here, she analyzes specimens of eye tissue from patients who have undergone surgery and need a tissue-based diagnosis.
Her current research seeks to identify characteristics in these biopsies that can provide diagnostic or therapeutic clues. Previously, she has conducted such biopsy studies on temporal arteritis and lympho-proliferative eye diseases, which are a type of cancer that can be found near the eye.
Dr. Stacy believes her pathology experience complements her clinical work. “When I’m working in the lab, and I can see the tissue under the microscope, it gives me a much greater understanding of the basis of a patient’s disease.”
Determined to find answers and to understand neurological and eye diseases, Dr. Stacy notes, “Neuro-ophthalmology is one of the last frontiers in medicine. There’s a lot of potential for therapies in neuro-ophthalmic and neurological diseases. We may not have the answer today, but we are definitely making progress.”
Dr. Stacy is an Assistant Professor in Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. Actively involved in teaching both ophthalmology and pathology residents, she most enjoys her one-on-one interactions in the clinic with medical students, residents, and fellows in both ocular pathology and neuro-ophthalmology.
She received her M.D. and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Washington University in St. Louis, before completing her ophthalmology residency at Harvard Medical School. She then simultaneously completed two fellowships at Mass. Eye and Ear—one in Ophthalmic Pathology and another in Neuro-Ophthalmology.
Contact Dr. Stacy’s office at 617-573-3412
View Dr. Stacy’s online bio for more information.