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Research_

Uveitis and inflammation

Improving treatment outcomes for uveitis
Our research aims to improve patient care and outcomes in patients suffering from uveitis and inflammation, and develop effective treatment therapies and diagnostic tests.

About us

We endeavour to improve treatment outcomes for patients suffering from uveitis and inflammation by:

  • establishing multidisciplinary adult and paediatric uveitis clinics (with adult and paediatric rheumatologists)
  • creating a database of patients with uveitis attending our clinics
  • instituting protocol driven management for vision threatening uveitis to improve outcomes
  • developing a prospective Save Sight Registry to track uveitis outcomes (FUB – Fight Uveitis Blindness).

What are the issues?

Uveitis and inflammatory eye disease are common causes of vision loss in patients of working age. 

The uvea tract is the middle vascular coat of the eye and its functions are to supply oxygen, glucose and nutrients to the eye. It also has an active immune defence system to protect the delicate retina and other structures inside the eye.

Uveitis is a non-specific generic term for inflammation of the uveal tract of the eye (like arthritis is a non-specific term for inflammation of the joints).

It can be caused by many different processes. In about 60% of patients uveitis is related to infections such as herpes viruses, toxoplasmosis or tuberculosis, or inflammatory disorders such as sarcoidosis, Behcet’s diease or systemic vasculitis.

In the remaining 40%, we are unable to identify a cause at this time.

Many treatments are non-specific immunosuppressive drugs rather than specific targeted therapies, and there is little understanding of outcomes of treatment.

Additionally, ocular surgery in patients with uveitis is complex.

Research highlights

The uveitis unit performs regular audits and clinical reviews of patients attending our clinics. Most of these become peer reviewed publications.

We widely utilise multi-modal imaging to aid in diagnosis and management. We have an active collaboration with Dr Alessandro Invernizzi from the University of Milan which is a world leading ocular imaging centre.

We have a number of active clinical research projects including:

  • sarcoid related uveitis
  • paraneoplastic and autoimmune retinopathy
  • plaquenil toxicity
  • birdshot choroidopathy
  • tubercular uveitis
  • local therapy for uveitis – ozurdex, anti-VEGF agents
  • biologic therapy for severe uveitis.

A multidisciplinary paediatric uveitis clinic will soon open at the Sydney Eye Hospital, where we'll work alongside paediatric rheumatologists. We'll be focused on patient care and outcomes in children with severe uveitis.

We have begun to establish a large DNA biobank for patients with inflammatory eye diseases at Sydney Eye Hospital. This biobank has stimulated interest in biobanking across the discipline and plans are now well advanced to establish the ocular disease focused biobank in Australia within the Discipline of Clinical Ophthalmology and Eye Health based at Sydney Eye Hospital.

We will store samples from a wide range of complex ocular disorders managed at Sydney Eye Hospital. The first patient samples are currently being collected, and validated human tissue will be readily available to answer important research questions. The biobank project aims to provide researchers on campus with pathologist-validated normal, diseased and surgical human eye tissue to rapidly translate observations made in vitro (in test tubes) or in animal models into therapies or diagnostic tests for humans.

Save Sight Institute

Address
  • South Block, Sydney Eye Hospital 8 Macquarie Street Sydney NSW 2000

Professor Peter McCluskey

Headshot of Peter McCluskey