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Quick Facts about Mass. Eye and Ear

Our Mission
Founded in 1824 by Drs. Edward Reynolds and John Jeffries as a one-room clinic to treat Boston's needy, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary has earned an international reputation for its successful treatment of the most difficult diseases and conditions of the eye, ear, nose, throat, head and neck, and for its outstanding contributions to medical research and education. 

Mass. Eye and Ear clinicians and scientists are driven by a mission to find cures for blindness, deafness and diseases of the head and neck. After uniting with Schepens Eye Research Institute in 2011, Mass. Eye and Ear in Boston became the world's largest vision and hearing research center, offering hope and healing to patients everywhere through discovery and innovation. Mass. Eye and Ear is a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital and trains future medical leaders in ophthalmology and otolaryngology, through residency as well as clinical and research fellowships. Internationally acclaimed, Mass. Eye and Ear employs full-time, board-certified physicians who offer high-quality and affordable, specialty care that ranges from the routine to the very complex. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals Survey” has consistently ranked the Mass. Eye and Ear departments of ophthalmology and Otolaryngology as among the top five in the nation.

Vital Stats*

Inpatient beds: 41
Operating rooms: (14 major; 3 Surgicenter): 17
Total surgical procedures: 22,000 (30% pediatric)
Total outpatient visits: 223,500
Emergency room visits: 19,300
Mass. Eye and Ear operating revenue: $280 million
Mass. Eye and Ear Associates operating revenue: $58.6 million
Mass. Eye and Ear Associates (hospital-based) physicians: 120
Community based physicians: 300
Employees: 1,995 (1,700 FTEs)
Nurses: 230
Sponsored research: $58.6 million

*(Numbers are from FY2011)

Medical Education

  • Primary teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School in ophthalmology and otolaryngology.
  • Training more than 135 residents and fellows in Mass. Eye and Ear's various sub-specialties, including cornea, neuro-ophthalmology, retina, eye pathology, pediatrics, glaucoma, ocular oncology, immunology, head and neck surgery and oncology, pediatric otolaryngology, facial plastics, otology and oto-neurology.

Research Advances

  • Electron microscope studies of human inner ear changes and how they cause deafness. (1970-74)
  • Discovery of the first drug to treat herpes simplex, a viral infection which causes bland cold sores on the lips, but which can be blinding when it attacks the cornea. (1975)
  • First isolation of the gene governing retinoblastoma, a potentially fatal eye tumor afflicting young children, which gene is a prototype for an entire class of genes relating to cancers of the breast, bone, bladder and lung. (1986)
  • First isolation of the gene that causes one form of retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary, degenerative and currently incurable and blinding disease of the retina. (1989)
  • Discovery of VEGF, a molecule implicated in diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration, the most common forms of blindness. (1994)

Surgical/ Clinical Advances

  • First application of proton beam irradiation for intraocular malignant melanoma, which irradiation successfully treats this eye tumor without damage to surrounding tissue. (1975)
  • Development of surgical methods for the alleviation of intractable vertigo. (1981)
  • Development and refinement of photocoagulation by use of laser beam and ultra-cold instruments in eye surgery. (1987)
  • Development of a surgical method to restore speech, swallowing, and normal breathing patients with paralyzed vocal cords. (1993)
  • Establishment of the first hyperbaric oxygen service in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1995)
  • Pioneered the use of photodynamic therapy for patients with neovascular macular degeneration. (FDA approved in 2000)


  • U.S. News & World Report magazine has ranked Mass. Eye and Ear in the top five in one or both of its specialties (ophthalmology and otolaryngology) each year since the magazine began publishing its annual survey of hospitals in 1990.
  • Joint Commission Accreditation

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 Page updated: Jan. 3, 2013