Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
Location Miami, Florida, United States
Coordinates 25°47′27.72″N 80°12′38.25″W / 25.7910333°N 80.2106250°W / 25.7910333; -80.2106250
Funding Private
Hospital type Teaching
Affiliated university University of Miami
Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine
Beds 56
Speciality Ophthalmology
Founded January 20, 1962 (1962-01-20)
Lists Hospitals in Florida

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, is a center for ophthalmic care, research, and education. Faculty and staff treat patients from around the world in facilities in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County, and Collier County. The Institute’s full-time faculty encompass many ophthalmic sub-specialties and has been consistently ranked as the best eye hospital in the country by US News & World Report.[1]

The Institute’s clinical faculty treats more than 250,000 patients each year,[2] provides 24-hour emergency care, and is the only community-based ophthalmic care for indigent and low-income patients of Miami-Dade County.


Bascom Palmer Eye Institute was founded by Edward W.D. Norton, M.D., a neuro-ophthalmologist, retinal specialist, administrator and teacher, who joined the University of Miami School of Medicine with dreams of building a regional ophthalmic center in South Florida. The Institute was named after Dr. Bascom H. Palmer, a Miami ophthalmologist who settled in Miami in the 1920s.[3]

Ophthalmology at the School of Medicine began in 1955 and attained departmental status in 1959 one year after Dr. Norton became the first full-time chairman.[4]

The “founding five” physicians of the Institute included Dr. Norton and four others: Dr. Victor Curtin, the first faculty member who was hired in 1959. He established the Pathology Laboratory and the Eye Bank,[5] which through the auspices of the Florida Lions, has provided ophthalmologists with donor eye tissue for more than 30,000 patients since its founding in 1962.[6] Dr. J. Lawton Smith, a neuro-ophthalmologist created the nation’s first post-graduate neuro-ophthalmology course.[7] Dr. J. Donald M. Gass, a macular degeneration specialist developed the use of fluorescein angiography as a diagnostic tool,[8] and Dr. John T. Flynn, a pediatric ophthalmologist established the Institute’s Children’s Clinic. The Institute was officially opened on January 20, 1962.[9]

John Clarkson, M.D., a vitreoretinal specialist and surgeon, succeeded Dr. Norton in 1991 and chaired the Institute until 1996.[10] Richard Parrish, M.D., a glaucoma sub-specialist, became the Institute's third chairman in 1996 and served for three years. Richard Forster, M.D., a cornea and external disease specialist served as interim chairman from 1999 until 2001. Carmen A. Puliafito, M.D., M.B.A., a vitreoretinal specialist and surgeon, was appointed chairman of the Institute and medical director of Anne Bates Leach Eye Hospital in July 2001 and served until October 2007. Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D., a cornea and external disease specialist is currently leading Bascom Palmer Eye Institute as its chairman.[11]

Medical firsts[edit]

In the beginning of the Institute's development, Bascom Palmer physicians, Noble J. David, J. Lawton Smith, Edward W. D. Norton and especially J.Donald M. Gass along with a young medical photographer, Johnny Justice, Jr., pioneered the use of fluorescein angiography for the diagnosis of macular and retinal diseases, which led to the accurate description and effective treatment of retinal disorders.[12]

Bascom Palmer surgeons performed the first modified osteo-odonto-keratoprosthesis surgery in the United States and restored vision to a woman who had been blind for 9 years. The procedure involved several surgeries culminating in implanting her tooth in her eye, as a base to hold a prosthetic lens.[13][14]

Bascom Palmer physicians and scientists pioneered studies into the effective treatment of the wet form of age-related macular degeneration using the FDA-approved colo-rectal cancer drug, Avastin.[15]

Bascom Palmer faculty member, Robert H. Machemer conducted the first successful vitreous surgery and was responsible for the invention of miniature surgical instrumentation required for the procedure [16]

Bascom Palmer Research Investigators established the clinical value of vitrectomy (removal of the vitreous humor) to treat retinal detachments, diabetic retinopathy, infectious diseases of the eye and severe ocular trauma.[17]

Bascom Palmer researchers identified the herpes virus as the cause of acute retinal necrosis, a devastating infection of the retina often associated with AIDS.[18]

In a successful effort to restore the vitality to ocular mucus membranes, Bascom Palmer faculty introduced limbal cell transplantation therapy, which now can prevent potentially blinding corneal scarring.[19]


24-hour emergency care and the only community-based ophthalmic care for indigent and low-income patients of Miami-Dade County are provided. Faculty and staff service of patients with eye disorders and diseases in the following areas:[20]
Retina and Vitreous Diseases and Surgery
Corneal & External Diseases
Laser Vision Center
Ophthalmic Oncology
Ophthalmic Plastic and Orbital Surgery
Pediatric ophthalmology
Ophthalmic pathology
Comprehensive Ophthalmology
24-hour Emergency in Miami
Optical Services
Contact Lens Service
Low vision Rehabilitation

U.S. News & World Report[edit]

In 2013, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute was ranked as the #1 Ophthalmology hospital in the United States for the tenth consecutive year by U.S. News & World Report.[21]


  1. ^ "U.S. News Best Hospitals: Ophthalmology". 2010-07-14. Retrieved 2011-07-12. 
  2. ^ "Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Ranked Nation's #1 in Ophthalmology for 8th Consecutive Year". Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Lewis, Philip M. (1962). "News and Comment". Archives of Ophthalmology. 67 (5): 677–82. doi:10.1001/archopht.1962.00960020677021. 
  4. ^ Clarkson, John G. (1994). "Eward W.D. Norton". Transactions of the American Ophthalmological Society. 92: 25–8. PMC 1298497Freely accessible. 
  5. ^ "Florida Lion's Eye Bank: History". 2006-10-19. Retrieved 2011-07-12. 
  6. ^ BTC Services (2011-06-04). "Florida Lion's Eye Bank'". Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-12. 
  7. ^ "Dr. Joseph Lawton Smith" Miami Herald, 1/13/2011
  8. ^ Pearce J, "J. Donald M. Gass, 76, a Leading Ophthalmologist, Dies", New York Times, 3/4/2005
  9. ^ "The Early Years". Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  10. ^ "John G. Clarkson, M.D. '68". Retrieved 2011-07-12. 
  11. ^ "Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D. Named Chairman of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute (press release)". Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. June 29, 2009. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  12. ^ Norton, EW; Gutman, F (1965). "Diabetic retinopathy studied by fluorescein angiography". Transactions of the American Ophthalmological Society. 63: 108–28. PMC 1310188Freely accessible. PMID 5859782. 
  13. ^ Sawatari, Yoh; Perez, Victor L.; Parel, Jean-Marie; Alfonso, Eduardo; Falcinelli, Giancarlo; Falcinelli, Johnny; Marx, Robert E. (2011). "Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons' Role in the First Successful Modified Osteo-Odonto-Keratoprosthesis Performed in the United States". Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 69 (6): 1750–6. doi:10.1016/j.joms.2010.07.055. PMID 21211883. 
  14. ^ Cox L, "Blind Woman Sees With 'Tooth-in-Eye' Surgery", ABC News/Health, 9/17/2009
  15. ^ Steinbrook, Robert (2006). "The Price of Sight — Ranibizumab, Bevacizumab, and the Treatment of Macular Degeneration". New England Journal of Medicine. 355 (14): 1409–12. doi:10.1056/NEJMp068185. PMID 17021315. 
  16. ^ Macherner, Robert (1995). "The development of pars plana vitrectomy: a personal account". Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology. 233 (8): 453–68. doi:10.1007/BF00183425. 
  17. ^ Machemer, R; Buettner, H; Norton, EW; Parel, JM (1971). "Vitrectomy: a pars plana approach". Transactions. 75 (4): 813–20. PMID 5566980. 
  18. ^ Lewis, ML; Culbertson, WW; Post, JD; Miller, D; Kokame, GT; Dix, RD (1989). "Herpes simplex virus type 1. A cause of the acute retinal necrosis syndrome". Ophthalmology. 96 (6): 875–8. doi:10.1016/S0161-6420(89)32823-5. PMID 2544841. 
  19. ^ Tseng, Scheffer C G (1989). "Concept and application of limbal stem cells". Eye. 3 (2): 141–57. doi:10.1038/eye.1989.22. 
  20. ^ "Bascom Palmer Eye Institute: Patient Services"
  21. ^ "Top-Ranked Hospitals for Ophthalmology". US News & World Report. Retrieved December 18, 2013. 

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