Joan W. Miller, M.D.

Chief and Chair, Department of Ophthalmology



Macular Degeneration

Board Certification

  • Ophthalmology

Main Campus
243 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-573-3915
Fax: 617-573-3698



Dr. Joan Miller is an internationally recognized expert on retinal disorders, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Over the last two decades, she and her colleagues at Mass. Eye and Ear/HMS pioneered the development of photodynamic therapy using verteporfin (Visudyne®), the first approved pharmacological therapy able to reduce and slow vision loss in patients with AMD. The group also identified the key role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in ocular neovascularization, leading to the development of anti-VEGF therapies now administered to millions of children and adults with sight-threatening retinal diseases annually around the world. Dr. Miller’s current studies focus on the genetics of AMD, strategies for early intervention in AMD, neuroprotective therapies for retinal diseases, and MacTel and other maculopathies.

Dr. Miller is the first female physician to achieve the rank of Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and the first woman to chair the Department of Ophthalmology. She is also the first woman appointed as Chief of Ophthalmology at both Mass. Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital. In addition to her these roles and responsibilities, she also co-directs Mass. Eye and Ear's Angiogenesis Laboratory.

As recognition for her contributions to the field of ophthalmology, Dr. Miller has received numerous prestigious honors and awards. Among them, she is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and a co-recipient of the 2014 António Champalimaud Vision Award, the highest distinction in ophthalmology and visual science. In 2015, Dr. Miller also became the first woman to receive the Mildred Weisenfeld Award for Excellence in Ophthalmology from the Association for Research In Vision and Ophthalmology; in 2018, she became the first woman awarded the Charles L. Schepens, MD, Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Recently, Dr. Miller was awarded the 2018 Lucien Howe Medal from the American Ophthalmological Society and the 2018 Gertrude D. Pyron Award from the American Society of Retinal Surgeons.

Clinical Interests

Diseases and surgery of the retina and vitreous; age-related macular degeneration; diabetic retinopathy; photodynamic therapy

Research Interests

Neuroprotection and ocular neovascularization, particularly as it relates to macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy; genetics of AMD; strategies for early intervention in AMD; 

novel retinal imaging techniques; genetics of AMD


For a complete list of publications, please see her CV.

  1. Laíns I, Kelly RS, Miller JB, Silva R, Vavvas DG, Kim IK, Murta JN, Lasky-Su J, Miller JW, Husain D. Human Plasma Metabolomics Study across All Stages of Age-Related Macular Degeneration Identifies Potential Lipid BiomarkersOphthalmology. 2018 Feb; 125(2):245-254. doi: 10.1016/j.optha.2017.08.008. Epub 2017 Sep 12. PubMed ID PMID: 28916333.
  2. Miller JW, Bagheri S, Vavvas DG. Advances in Age-related Macular Degeneration Understanding and TherapyUS Ophthalmic Rev. 2017 Fall;10(2):119-130. doi 10.179225/USOR.2017.10.02.119. PubMed ID PMID: 29142592.
  3. Laíns I, Miller JB, Park DH, Tsikata E, Davoudi S, Pierce J, Silva R, Chen TC, Kim IK, Vavvas D, Miller JW, Husain D. Structural Changes Associated with Delayed Dark Adaptation in Age-Related Macular DegenerationOphthalmology. 2017 Sep; 124(9):1340-1352. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2017.03.061. Epub 2017 May 10. PubMed ID PMID: 28501377.
  4. Vavvas DG, Daniels AB, Kapsala ZG, Goldfarb JW, Ganotakis E, Loewenstein JI, Young LH, Gragoudas EG, Eliott D, Kim IK, Tsilimbaris MK, Miller JWRegression of some high-risk features of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in patients receiving intensive statin treatmentEBioMedicine. 2016 Feb 4;5:198-203. doi:10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.01.033. eCollection 2016 Mar. PubMed PMID: 27077128; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4816836.
  5. Miller JWVEGF: From Discovery to Therapy: The Champalimaud Award LectureTransl Vis Sci Technol. 2016 Mar 11;5(2):9. eCollection 2016 Mar. PubMed PMID: 26981331; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4790434.

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  • Harvard Medical School, cum laude, M.D.
  • Life Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SB


  • Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School


  • Vitreoretinal Surgery, Mass. Eye and Ear