Deborah I. Friedman, M.D., M.P.H., is a Professor in the Department of Neurology and the Department of Ophthalmology at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

A neuro-ophthalmologist, Dr. Friedman is the founding Director of UT Southwestern’s Headache and Facial Pain Program and serves as Director of UTSW’s Disorders of Intracranial Pressure Program and as a member of the Promotion and Tenure Committee. She joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2011.

She is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in neurology, with subspecialty certification in headache medicine by the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties.

Dr. Friedman is a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, the American Headache Society, the American Neurological Association, and the North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society, for which she is also a past Board Chair and past President.

Her research interests include disorders of cerebrospinal fluid dynamics (pseudotumor cerebri syndrome/idiopathic intracranial hypertension, spontaneous intracranial hypotension), migraine therapeutics, and cluster headache therapeutics. She has published more than 120 peer-reviewed articles, authored or co-authored more than 24 book chapters, and delivered more than 300 lectures and presentations.

Dr. Friedman is active in many national and international organizations related to her subspecialties. She also serves on the editorial board of Neurology Reviews and as a reviewer for a number of neurology journals.

She earned her medical degree at Tulane University Medical School. She completed her residency in neurology at Baylor College of Medicine and her fellowship in neuro-ophthalmology at the Doheny Eye Institute in Los Angeles.

She also holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Meet Dr. Friedman

Neuro-Ophthalmologist and Headache Medicine Specialist in Dallas

Many people suffering from debilitating migraine and cluster headaches are desperate for relief. UT Southwestern Medical Center neuro-ophthalmologist and headache expert Dr. Deborah Friedman is often able to provide it.

“I see the most challenging and complex headache patients, and we’re able to correctly diagnose and treat the majority of them very successfully,” Dr. Friedman says. “They’re highly motivated to get better, and we can usually help them do that.”

Dr. Friedman is the founding Director of UT Southwestern’s Headache and Facial Pain Program. She is also one of only a handful of U.S. physicians with special expertise in evaluating and treating conditions that overlap the fields of headache medicine and neuro-ophthalmology.

“My clinical niche is the interface of headache and the eyes and vision,” she says.

One condition in that niche is idiopathic intracranial hypertension – high cerebrospinal fluid pressure in the brain that has no known cause. Also called pseudotumor cerebri syndrome, the condition affects women of childbearing age and can lead to ongoing headaches and blindness if not successfully treated.

Dr. Friedman is also an expert in treating spontaneous intracranial hypotension – low blood pressure in the brain caused by a cerebrospinal leak in the spine – which can produce headaches, as well.

Making the Right Diagnosis

“I love headache medicine because we can make people feel better, which is incredibly rewarding,” Dr. Friedman says. “Patients tell us, ‘I had horrible headaches all my life, and nobody knew what to do. You gave me my life back, and I’m so grateful.’”

In most cases, she says, the key to effective headache treatment is having the correct diagnosis, which is why identifying the problem accurately is the No. 1 priority of the Headache and Facial Pain Program.

She notes she also gets satisfaction from sharing her knowledge with others.

“I really enjoy being able to help people as an educator,” she says. “I’m proud of what I’m able to teach my patients, trainees, colleagues, and others.”

Thankfully, people with headache disorders have reason to be optimistic.

“There are a lot of new things going on in headache medicine – from new delivery systems such as intranasal sprays, injectables, and monoclonal antibodies to state-of-the-art implanted stimulators,” Dr. Friedman says. “It’s a great time to work in this field.”

Note: Dr. Friedman’s patients require a referral and must already have been seen by a neurologist.

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Education & Training
  • Fellowship - USC/Doheny Eye Institute (1987-1989), Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Other Post Graduate Training - University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (2002-2008), Public Health
  • Residency - Baylor College of Medicine (1984-1987), Neurology
  • Internship - Good Samaritan Hospital (1983-1984), Internal Medicine
  • Medical School - Tulane University Medical School (1979-1983)
Professional Associations & Affiliations
  • Headache Cooperative of the Pacific (2018)
  • Spinal Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak Foundation (2018), Medical Advisory Board
  • Headache Organization of Texas (2012), Founder and Director
  • Southern Headache Society (2012), Board of Directors (non-voting member) 2020–present
  • United Council for Neurologic Specialties (2005), Board of Directors 2011–2013, Headache Medicine Examination Committee 2005–present
  • American Neurological Association (2004)
  • International Headache Society (2003)
  • National Headache Foundation (1999)
  • American Headache Society (1998), Consortium of Fellowship Program Directors 2012–present, Chair of the Ethics Committee 2016–2020, Board of Directors 2004–2010, 2014–2020, Chair of the Task Force on Application Standards 2014, Legislative Affairs Liaison 2006–2014, Ethics Committee 2002–2011
  • Women in Neuro-ophthalmology (1992), Co-founder and President 1992–1994
  • American Academy of Ophthalmology (1990-2016), Media Advisory Task Force 2006–2014, EyeNet Editorial Advisory Board 2009–2013
  • North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society (1988), Past Board Chair 2008–2010, President 2006–2008, President Elect 2004–2006, Secretary 2000–2002, Treasurer 1996–1998
  • American Academy of Neurology (1985), Chair of Headache and Facial Pain Section 2011-2013
Honors & Awards
  • John R. Graham Lecture Award 2021, American Headache Society
  • America’s Most Honored Doctors 2020-2021, American Registry
  • US News and World Report Top Doctors 2011-2020
  • Top Doctors 2011-2020, Castle Connolly
  • Exceptional Women in Medicine 2018-2020, Castle Connolly
  • Who’s Who in America 2011-2020
  • Patients’ Choice Award 2016-2020, Vitals
  • Top Doctors in North Texas 2015-2020
  • Best Doctors in America 1998-2019
  • Seymour Solomon Award 2018, American Headache Society
  • Readers’ Choice Award 2018, Headache
  • Above and Beyond Award 2017, American Headache Society
  • Thomas Carlow Distinguished Service Award 2012, North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society
  • Athena Award Finalist 2011, Rochester Business Alliance Women's Council
  • America’s Top Physicians 2006, Consumers’ Research Council of America
  • Fellow of American Headache Society 2005
  • Achievement Award 2003, American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • Who’s Who of American Women 2001-2002
  • 2000 Notable American Women 2000
  • Fellow of American Academy of Neurology 1998
  • Who’s Who in Science and Engineering 1996-1997
  • Sterling Who’s Who 1995
  • Fellow of North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society 1991
  • Fellow of American Neurological Association
Books & Publications
  • Migraine Therapy
  • Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (Pseudotumor Cerebri)
  • Spontaneous intracranial hypotension
  • Cluster headache therapeutics

Clinical Focus

  • Neuro-Ophthalmology Disorders
  • Headache disorders

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Q&A by Dr. Friedman