On May 9, Dr. Simmons Lessell, who was one is credited withed cofounding the field of neuro-ophthalmology, passed away at 82 years old.
Lessell was a distinguished professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School for many years and had been the principal chief of neuro-ophthalmology at the Harvard Medical School affiliate Mass Eye and Ear.
Since Lessell’s death, numerous news outlets have written about its noteworthy successes and accomplishments.
Lessell’s obituary in the Boston Globe reports that Lessell grew up in Brooklyn, NY and knew from an early age that he needed to be a doctor. He earned degreets at Amherst College and Cornell Medical School. After Cornell, he began his renowned vocation in neuro-opthalmology.
Many of Lessell’s former colleagues and students have spoken of him being a skilled educator, a devoted parental figure to his patients and an exemplary practitioner.
Globe reporter Bryan Marquard writes:
Simply watching Dr. Simmons Lessell figure out what illness had befallen a patient was part of the training for the aspiring neuro-ophthalmologists who followed him on his rounds at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. And for those already experienced in the field, seeing him take a patient’s case history was a welcome refresher course.
“He was one of the most gifted diagnosticians of all time – really remarkable in that sense,” said Dr. Joan Miller, who is chief of ophthalmology at Mass. Eye and Ear and chairs the ophthalmology department at Harvard Medical School. “Other clinicians loved to hear him work his way through a diagnosis.”
Lessell was also known for his honesty, as he reportedly said in a 2007 interview that he willingly acknowledged his shortcomings and wasn’t afraid to say, “I don’t know.”
Joan Miller, who is the current chief of ophthalmology at Mass Eye and Ear, says, “Simmons always talked about the three ‘As’: availability, ability, and affability. You have to be able to be empathic and communicate.”