Dr. Eli Peli's 30 Years at Tufts New England Medical Center

Pioneer of Low Vision Services


BOSTON, MA Month 01, 2014 – Eli Peli, MSc, OD joined the Department of Ophthalmology at what is now Tufts Medical Center (and now New England Eye Center) 30 years ago. Dr. Peli, then a recent graduate of the New England College of Optometry founded a low vision rehabilitation service at the department Dr Peli in Google Glassand joined the active contact lens service. He also started an active research program in image processing of retinal images.

The department was one of the few places in the world 30 years ago that had the infrastructure for this kind of work and Dr. Peli as a graduate of the Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering programs at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology was one of very few people at the time that practiced image processing in the ophthalmic arena.

Within one year he was awarded his first NIH R01 grant (in collaboration with Dr. Thomas Hedges and the chief at the time Dr. Bernard Swartz) to process retinal images of the nerve fiber layer in glaucoma and neuroophthalmic diseases.   He also stared collaboration with Dr. Samuel Sokol in studying eye movements and VER in infants. 

At the same time Dr. Peli was also working half time at the Schepens Eye Research institute where he was applying the first scanning laser ophthalmoscope to studies of eye movements in low vision.

With another NIH grant awarded in 1986 (and now still in force) he started working at the Schepens on image enhancement for the visually impaired. Has his research demands increased Dr. Peli dropped his contact lens practice but continue to see low vision patients at Tufts medical center for the last 30 years.

His renowned research work in low vision that was funded at the top 5% of NIH over these years has led to numerous inventions and developments.   Our patients at the eye center benefited from having first access to these innovations.

In addition to his work in low vision Dr. Peli maintained an active program of research in vision and display interaction which established him as an expert in the area of head mounted display where he has been consulting for many of the giants of the electronic industries including: Nintendo, Motorola, Sony, Phillips, and most recently Google. Today Dr. Peli is the Moakley Scholar in Aging Eye Research at Schepens Eye Research Institute, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, and Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. He also serves Adjunct Professor of Ophthalmology at Tufts University School of Medicine and as Adjunct Professor of Optometry and Visual Sciences New England College of Optometry.

Dr. Peli is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, a Fellow of the SID (Society for Information Display), and a Fellow of the SPIE (The International Society of Optical Engineering). He was presented the 2001 Glenn A. Fry Lecture Award and the 2009 William Feinbloom Award by the American Academy of Optometry, the 2004 Alfred W. Bressler Prize in Vision Science (shared with Dr. R. Massof) by the Jewish Guild for the Blind, the 2006 Pisart Vision Award by the Lighthouse International, the 2009 Alcon Research Institute award (shared with Dr. R. Massof), the 2010 Otto Schade Prize from the SID (Society for Information Display) and the 2010 Edwin H Land Medal awarded jointly by the Optical Society of America and the Society for Imaging Science and Technology.

He was awarded an Honorary Degree of Master in Medicine by Harvard Medical School in 2002 and an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) in 2006. He served as a consultant on many national committees, including the National Institutes of Health, NASA AOS, Aviation Operations Systems advisory committee, US Air Force, Department of Veterans Affairs, US Navy Postdoctoral Fellowships Program, US Army Research Labs, and US Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Dr. Peli has published more than 170 peer reviewed scientific papers and has been awarded 8 US Patents. He also edited a book entitled Visual Models for Target Detection with special emphasis on military applications and co-authored a book entitled Driving with Confidence: A Practical Guide to Driving with Low Vision (coauthored with Doron Peli). With his recent work addressing the difficulties of patients with homonymous hemianopia who previously had little in term of rehabilitation help, his practice at the Eye center has seen a shift from seeing about 85% of patients with macular degeneration to about 50% of his patients with homonymous hemianopia, where patients from all over the country and the world are making their way here to seek his care.


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