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Joshua Dunaief, MD, PhD

Joshua Dunaief, MD, PhD Physician

Adele Niessen Professor of Ophthalmology

Dr. Dunaief is employed by Penn Medicine.

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About Dr. Joshua Dunaief

Recognized by Best Doctors in America 2015 - 2018

Clinical Specialties


  • Ophthalmology

Programs & Centers:

  • General Ophthalmology Services

Board Certification:

  • Ophthalmology, 2001

Clinical Expertise:

  • Absence of Eye
  • Accommodating Lens Implant
  • Accommodation
  • Acute Orbital Inflammation
  • Agenesis of Eye
  • Allergic Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
  • Alternating Hyperphoria
  • Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
  • Aniseikonia
  • Anisocoria
  • Anisometropia
  • Anterior Segment Diseases
  • Anterior Segment Surgery
  • Anterior Uveitis in Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
  • Aphakia
  • Aphakic Bullous Keratopathy
  • Arterial Biopsy
  • Astigmatism
  • Astigmatism Lenses
  • Bacterial Conjunctivitis
  • Blepharitis
  • Blepharoptosis
  • Blepharorrhaphy
  • Blepharospasm
  • Blind in One Eye
  • Blocked Tear Duct
  • Blood Clot in Eye
  • Blood in Eye
  • Blurred Vision
  • BOTOX Therapy
  • Brow Droop
  • Brow Lift
  • Buphthalmos
  • Canthoplasty
  • Cardiac Electrophysiology Study (EPS)
  • Cataract Implant Surgery
  • Cataract Removal
  • Cataract Screening
  • Cataracts
  • Central Retinal Artery Occlusion
  • Central Serous Chorioretinopathy
  • Choroidal Neovascularization
  • Ciliary Body Degeneration
  • CNS Lymphoma
  • Coats Syndrome
  • Color Blindness
  • Complications of Lasik
  • Computer Vision Syndrome
  • Congenital Anomaly of Eyelid
  • Congenital Cataract
  • Congenital Ptosis
  • Conjunctival Burn
  • Conjunctivitis (Pinkeye)
  • Contact Lens Infections
  • Contact Lenses
  • Contact Lens-Induced Corneal Edema
  • Contact Lens-Related Problems
  • Cornea Injury
  • Corneal Abrasion
  • Corneal and Conjunctival Tumors
  • Corneal Cross-Linking
  • Corneal Diseases
  • Corneal Foreign Body
  • Corneal Transplant
  • Corneal Ulcers
  • Cosmetic Eyelid Surgery
  • Cosmetic Surgery
  • Cyst of Eyelid
  • Cytomegaloviral Retinitis
  • Dacryocystectomy
  • Dacryocystorhinostomy
  • Diabetic Eye Disease
  • Diabetic Eye Exam
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Diode Laser Cyclophotocoagulation
  • Diplopia
  • Disorders of the Vitreous
  • Dry Eyes
  • Ectopia Lentis
  • Ectropion
  • Electroretinogram
  • Endoscopic Dacryocystorhinostomy
  • Entropion
  • Epiretinal Membrane
  • Esotropia
  • Examination of Eyes
  • Excess Skin of Eyelid
  • Excessive Tearing
  • Exotropia
  • Eye Cancer
  • Eye Complications of Wegener'S
  • Eye Conditions
  • Eye Emergencies
  • Eye Floaters
  • Eye Health
  • Eye Inflammation
  • Eye Pain
  • Eye Strain
  • Eyeglasses
  • Eyelid Lesions
  • Eyelid Repair
  • Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty)
  • Eyelid Trauma
  • Eyelid Tumors
  • Facial Nerve Disorders
  • Failed Vision Screening Exams
  • Family History of Glaucoma
  • Farsightedness
  • Fuchs' Dystrophy
  • General Eye Care
  • Glaucoma
  • Glaucoma Procedures
  • Glaucoma Screening
  • Graves' Disease
  • Growth On Eye
  • Hereditary Retinal Diseases
  • Herpes Simplex Eye Infections
  • Herpes Simplex With Ophthalmic Complication
  • Herpes Zoster Eye Infections
  • Hypertelorism
  • Idiopathic Orbital Inflammatory Disease
  • Infectious Retinitis
  • Intermediate Uveitis
  • Intraocular Lens Implant
  • Intraocular Lymphoma
  • Intraocular Tumors
  • Iridoplasty
  • Iritis
  • Keratitis
  • Keratoconus
  • Keratoprosthesis
  • Keratotomy
  • Laceration of Eye
  • Lacrimal System Trauma
  • Laser Vision Correction
  • LASIK Eye Surgery
  • Learning Related Vision Problems
  • Leber Congenital Amaurosis (LCA)
  • Legal Blindness
  • Lipiflow
  • Lipiview
  • Low Vision Aids
  • Lupus Eye Conditions
  • Macular Degeneration Screening
  • Macular Degneration
  • Macular Edema
  • Macular Hole
  • Meibomian Cyst
  • Melanoma
  • Melanoma of Eye
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Microphthalmos
  • Microsurgery
  • Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery
  • Multifocal Lens Implant
  • Myasthenia Gravis (MG)
  • Myopia (Nearsightedness)
  • Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction
  • Night Blindness
  • No Stitch Cataract Surgery
  • Nystagmus
  • Ocular Allergies
  • Ocular Hypertension
  • Ocular Inflammatory Diseases
  • Ocular Oncology
  • Ocular Surface Diseases
  • Oculoplastic Surgery
  • Optic Nerve Decompression
  • Optic Nerve Disorders
  • Optic Nerve Hypoplasia
  • Optic Neuritis
  • Optic Neuropathy
  • Optic Pathway Glioma
  • Optical Coherence Tomography
  • Orbit Cancer
  • Orbital Cellulitis
  • Orbital Fractures
  • Orbital Inflammatory Syndromes
  • Orbital Lacrimal Surgery
  • Orbital Tumors
  • Papilledema
  • Pars Planitis
  • Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
  • Photorefractive Keratectomy
  • Pigmented Lesions
  • Presbyopia
  • Proptosis
  • Prosthetic Eye
  • Pseudoexfoliation Glaucoma
  • Pseudophakia
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri
  • Pterygium
  • Punctal Malposition
  • Punctal Plugs for Dry Eyes
  • Punctal Stenosis
  • Pupil Disorders
  • Red Eye
  • Refraction for Eyeglasses
  • Refractive Amblyopia
  • Refractive Errors
  • Refractive Lens Exchange
  • Repair of Entropion or Ectropion
  • Replacement of Contact Lens
  • Retina and Vitreous Surgery
  • Retinal and Choroidal Tumors
  • Retinal Degeneration
  • Retinal Detachment
  • Retinal Disorders
  • Retinal Edema
  • Retinal Laser Surgery
  • Retinal Neovascularization
  • Retinal Tear
  • Retinal Telangiectasia
  • Retinal Vascular Diseases
  • Retinal Vein Occlusion
  • Retinitis
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Ruptured Vessel of Eye
  • Scleritis
  • Sensitivity to Light
  • Sickle Cell Retinopathy
  • Sjogren’s Syndrome
  • Soft and Hard Contact Lens Exams
  • Stargardt Macular Degeneration
  • Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
  • Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)
  • Strabismus Surgery
  • Stye
  • Sudden Vision Loss
  • Temporal Arteritis (Giant Cell Arteritis)
  • Thyroid Eye Disorders
  • Unexplained Tearing
  • Unexplained Vision Loss
  • Uveitis
  • Uveitis-Rheumatoid Arthritis Syndrome
  • Viral Conjunctivitis
  • Viral Retinitis
  • Vision Loss
  • Vision Testing and Screening in Young Children
  • Vision Therapy
  • Visual Changes
  • Visual Discomfort
  • Visual Disturbance
  • Visual Electrophysiology
  • Visual Field Defects
  • Visual Impairment
  • Vitrectomy
  • Vitreoretinal Disorders
  • Xerophthalmia
Show All Expertise

Practice Locations and Appointments

Insurance Accepted

  • Aetna US Healthcare
  • Cigna
  • Cigna HealthSpring
  • Clover Health Plan
  • CVS Health
  • Devon Health Services (Americare)
  • eLAP Services
  • Gateway Health Plan
  • Geisinger Health Plan
  • HealthAmerica / HealthAssurance, a Coventry Plan
  • HealthPartners
  • HealthPartners Medicare
  • HealthSmart
  • Highmark Blue Shield
  • Homestead Smart Health Plans
  • Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
  • Humana / Choicecare
  • Independence Blue Cross (Keystone East)
  • Intergroup
  • Keystone First
  • Keystone First Medicare
  • Multiplan
  • NJ Medicaid
  • NJ Qualcare
  • Oscar Health Plan of PA
  • Oxford Health Plan
  • PA Health and Wellness (Centene) Medicare
  • PA Medicaid
  • PA Medicare
  • Preferred Health Care/LGH
  • Provider Partners Health Plan
  • Rail Road Medicare / Palmetto GBA
  • Remedy Partners at Penn Medicine
  • Superior Vision Benefit Mgmt, Inc (Block Vision)
  • Tricare
  • United Healthcare
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan
  • US Family Health Plan
  • Veterans Choice Program

Education and Training

Medical School: Columbia University
Residency: Mercy Medical Center
Residency: Johns Hopkins Hospital


American Academy of Ophthalmology, National Association For Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, International International BioIron Society, International Macula Society, International NIH, Biology and Diseases of the Posterior Eye Study Section, National

Hospital Affiliation

Dr. Dunaief is employed by Penn Medicine.

Hospital Privileges:

  • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania: Has privileges to treat patients in the hospital.
  • Penn Presbyterian Medical Center: Has privileges to treat patients in the hospital.


Description of Research Expertise:

Research Interests
Mechanisms and therapeutics for age-related retinal neurodegeneration

Key words: Macular degeneration, oxidative stress, iron transport, apoptosis, retina, aging, inflammation, transcriptomics

Description of Research
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible blindness, yet its pathogenesis is poorly understood. Evidence suggests that cumulative oxidative damage contributes to AMD and aging in general. The Dunaief lab has found that AMD retinas have iron overload, which can cause oxidative stress. Increased understanding of retinal iron homeostasis may lead to treatments for AMD. To investigate the mechanisms of retinal iron regulation, the lab uses conditional knockout mouse models, human retinal tissue, and retinal cell tissue culture. A mouse line deficient in the iron transporting ferroxidases ceruloplasmin and hephaestin develops age-dependent retinal iron overload and retinal degeneration with features of AMD (Hahn et al., PNAS, 2004). Recent research in the lab indicates that inflammation promotes cellular iron overload in a vicious cycle leading to cell death. Our current focus is on the mechanisms of retinal iron homeostasis and development of therapeutics to protect the retina.

Rotation Projects
1)Study mechanisms of retinal iron regulation by performing histology and immunofluorescence on retinal sections from conditional knockout mice. You will learn retinal anatomy and the techniques of ocular microdissection, cryosectioning, plastic sectioning and fluorescence microscopy.

2)In retinal cell culture, study the effects of inflammatory mediators on retinal iron transporters. You will learn tissue culture, qPCR, Western analysis, and cell death assays.

3) Use FACS to isolate single retinal cell types and determine the effects of iron transporter knockouts on their transcriptome.

Lab personnel:
Delu Song, Research Associate
Ying Song, Research Specialist
Bailey Baumann, VMD/PhD Student
Edward Linton, UPenn Medical Student
Rupak Bhuyan, UPenn Medical Student
Danielle Minichino, CAMB Rotating Student
Shounan Qi, Visiting Scholar
Jacob Sterling, UPenn Undergraduate
Samy Guttha, Drexel Undergraduate

Selected Publications:

Theurl M, Song D, Clark E, Sterling J, Grieco S, Altamura S, Galy B, Hentze M, Muckenthaler MU, Dunaief JL: Mice with hepcidin-resistant ferroportin accumulate iron in the retina. FASEB J 30 (2): 813-23,2016.

Song D, Song J, Wang C, Li Y, Dunaief JL: Berberine protects againstlight-induced photoreceptor degeneration in the mouse retina. Exp Eye Res 145 : 1-9,2016.

Bhoiwala DL, Dunaief JL: Retinal abnormalities in β-thalassemia major. Surv Ophthalmol 61 (1): 33-50,2016.

Zhao L, Hadziahmetovic M, Wang C, Xu X, Song Y, Jinnah HA, Wodzinska J, Iacovelli J, Wolkow N, Krajacic P, Weissberger AC, Connelly J, Spino M, Lee MK, Connor J, Giasson B, Harris ZL, Dunaief JL: Cp/Heph mutant mice have iron-induced neurodegeneration diminished by deferiprone. J Neurochem 135 (5): 958-74,2015.

Bhoiwala Devang L, Song Ying, Cwanger Alyssa, Clark Esther, Zhao Liang-liang, Wang Chenguang, Li Yafeng, Song Delu, Dunaief Joshua L: CD1 Mouse Retina Is Shielded From Iron Overload Caused by a High Iron Diet. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science 56 (9): 5344-52,2015.

Gelfand Bradley D, Wright Charles B, Kim Younghee, Yasuma Tetsuhiro, Yasuma Reo, Li Shengjian, Fowler Benjamin J, Bastos-Carvalho Ana, Kerur Nagaraj, Uittenbogaard Annette, Han Youn Seon, Lou Dingyuan, Kleinman Mark E, McDonald W Hayes, Núñez Gabriel, Georgel Philippe, Dunaief Joshua L, Ambati Jayakrishna: Iron Toxicity in the Retina Requires Alu RNA and the NLRP3 Inflammasome. Cell reports 11 (11): 1686-93,2015.

Li Y, Song D, Song Y, Zhao L, Wolkow N, Tobias JW, Song W, Dunaief JL: Iron-induced Local Complement Component 3 (C3) Up-regulation via Non-Canonical TGF-β Signaling in the Retinal Pigment Epithelium. Journal Biol Chem 290 (19): 11918-34,2015.

Guo LY, Alekseev O, Li Y, Song Y, Dunaief JL: Iron Increases APP Translation and Amyloid-Beta Production in the Retina Exp Eye Res 129 : 31-7,2014.

Hahn, Paul. Qian, Ying. Dentchev, Tzvete. Chen, Lin. Beard, John. Harris, Zena Leah. Dunaief, Joshua L.: Disruption of ceruloplasmin and hephaestin in mice causes retinal iron overload and retinal degeneration with features of age-related macular degeneration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 101 (38): 13850-5,2004.

Dunaief, J L. Strober, B E. Guha, S. Khavari, P A. Alin, K. Luban, J. Begemann, M. Crabtree, G R. Goff, S P.: The retinoblastoma protein and BRG1 form a complex and cooperate to induce cell cycle arrest. Cell 79 (1): 119-30,1994.

View all publications

Academic Contact Info

305B Stellar Chance
422 Curie Blvd.

Philadelphia, PA 19104-6100
Phone: (215) 898-5235
Patient appointments: 800-789-7366 (PENN)