Joseph F. Rizzo III, M.D.

Director, Neuro-Ophthalmology Service



Board Certification

  • Psychiatry and Neurology, Ophthalmology

Main Campus
243 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-573-3412
Fax: 617-573-3851



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 Harvard Ophthalmology as a Clinical Fellow in Neuro-Ophthalmology and has served as a full-time faculty member since 1986.

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

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.

Clinical Interests

Optic nerve disease, pseudotumor cerebri, giant cell arteritis, unexplained visual problems

Research Interests

Development of a retinal prosthesis to restore vision to blind patients; clinical research on several varieties of optic nerve and retinal disease; giant cell arteritis; pseudotumor cerebri


For a full publication list, please see his CV.

Activation of retinal ganglion cells in wild-type and rd1 mice through electrical stimulation of the retinal neural network. Jensen RJ, Rizzo JF 3rd. Vision Res. 2008 Jun; 48(14): 1562-8.

Electric stimulation with sinusoids and white noise for neural prostheses. Freeman DK, Rizzo JF, Fried SI. Front Neurosci. 2010 Feb 12; 4: 28.

Use of optical coherence tomography to evaluate papilledema and pseudopapilledema. Heidary G, Rizzo JF 3rd. Semin Ophthalmol. 2010 Sep-Nov; 25 (5-6): 198-205.

Effects of GABA receptor antagonists on thresholds of P23H rat retinal ganglion cells to electrical stimulation of the retina. Jensen RJ, Rizzo JF 3rd. J Neural Eng. 2011 Jun; 8(3): 035002.

A hermetic wireless subretinal neurostimulator for vision prostheses. Kelly SK, Shire DB, Chen J, Doyle P, Gingerich MD, Cogan SF, Drohan WA, Behan S, Theogarajan L, Wyatt JL, Rizzo JF 3rd. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2011 Nov; 58(11): 3197-205.

View a list of publications on>>

To learn more about Dr. Rizzo, read his "Meet a Specialist" profile here.



  • Biology and Chemistry, Louisiana State University, BS
  • Louisiana State University, M.D.


  • Neurology, Tufts New England Medical Center
  • Ophthalmology, Boston University School of Medicine


  • Neuro-Ophthalmology, Mass. Eye and Ear