W. Morton Grant, MD

  • Presented: 
    2016
  • Recognition: 
    ASCRS Ophthalmology Hall of Fame

1915–2001

“Dr. Morton Grant is one of the founding fathers of modern glaucoma. His pioneering work in diagnosing angle conditions, aqueous outflow variability and advanced optic nerve disease were instrumental for our current level of understanding. In addition, his lectures and training programs for hundreds of glaucoma fellows worldwide set the bar in advancing knowledge of this complex disease.”

Richard Lewis, MD
Past President, American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery

W. Morton Grant, MD—a renowned ophthalmic clinician-scientist and educator—was by all accounts a quiet and humble man despite being a world leader in the study and treatment of glaucoma. Dr. Grant’s many contributions to the field included his development of tonography, which made the assessment of aqueous outflow a clinically relevant and useful test. He concluded that, in glaucoma patients, the facility of aqueous outflow was decreased, indicating the trabecular meshwork was plugged. Tonography helps assess the risk of developing glaucoma and is still useful when studying the mechanism of action of medications.

Dr. Grant attended Harvard College as an undergraduate and went on to graduate from Harvard Medical School in 1940. While there, he had his first taste of ophthalmic research while studying ophthalmology in elective courses. Following medical school, he accepted a surgical internship at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, where he stayed for one year.

In 1943, Dr. Grant started his career at the Howe Laboratory at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI). With the Second World War in full swing, the need to treat eye injuries sustained by chemicals was a priority, and Dr. Grant worked closely with David Cogan, MD, on the effects of mustard gas on the eye. Under the direction of Dr. Cogan, he gained valuable knowledge in toxicology and biochemistry. Dr. Grant’s work in the laboratory, and his lifelong interest in organic chemistry, resulted in the 1962 publication of his first book, Toxicology of the Eye. He would produce four editions of the book, which many regarded as the bible on the subject.

Dr. Grant’s other major work developed from his collaboration with long-time friend and Howe Laboratory colleague, Paul A. Chandler, MD. Their collective clinical observations and definitive ideas on treating glaucoma were shared in a lecture series that later became Lectures on Glaucoma. First published in 1965, Lectures on Glaucoma is one of the field’s seminal texts on the medical practice and surgical management of glaucoma and has been counted among the most influential of the 20th century. Generations of ophthalmologists have found the book to be an invaluable reference. In 1986, the book—revised and updated by David Epstein, MD—was published as Chandler and Grant’s Glaucoma. Now in its fifth edition, Chandler and Grant’s Glaucoma contains the well-established fundamentals offered by Drs. Grant and Chandler, from the mechanisms behind clinical observation to details on treating individual patients in the office, as well as the added experience of world-class glaucoma experts trained from the original teachings of the book.

Dr. Grant served as the first director of the Glaucoma Consultation Service at MEEI and remained in the position until 1982. In 1974, he became the first David Glendenning Cogan Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. He was a devoted teacher who always took the time to share his knowledge and experience with students, residents and fellows. Dr. Grant is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Proctor Medal (Association for Vision and Research in Ophthalmology), the Knapp Medal (American Medical Association) and the Howe Medal (American Ophthalmological Society).

Dr. Grant died in November 2001 at the age of 86. His wife, Jeannette Poirier, died shortly after in December 2001. They are survived by three children and four grandchildren.