7 June 2018 – Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Uveitis is a complex eye disease that causes around 1 in 6 of all sight loss cases in patients around the world of all ages including children; treatment and management demands a very high level of sub specialist expertise that is rarely found – even in the UAE, with its strong public and private healthcare sectors. As more complex eye diseases become more common in the UAE, Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai is advising patients to seek local specialist advice and treatment as early as possible to delay the onset of any potential vision loss caused by complex eye diseases.
Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai sees on average two new patients with Uveitis every week and it takes the combined specialist skills and experience of the hospital’s consulting team to treat and manage each case. Uveitis is typical of a range of complex diseases, such as Diabetic Retinopathy, that are increasingly seen in the UAE and demand the highest levels of skills – without this local expertise, patients would need to go overseas for management. Patients also need to seek early advice or risk losing their vision.
Moorfields’ Uveitis specialist Dr. Avinash Gurbaxani, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon in Uveitis and Medical Retinal Diseases and Cataract Surgery, describes Uveitis as a chronic disease with complex systemic associations and a high risk of vision loss: “These are rare and complicated diseases and we see patients from across the GCC; they require a team approach with relevant deep sub-specialist skills. These are long-term chronic conditions with no cure and so a close working relationship between patient and consultant is essential for successful treatment and management to ensure against vision loss and maintain long-term vision stability. Without specialists in the UAE, these patients would need to go overseas for management.”
Uveitis is an example of a complex disease that needs a high level of subspecialist skill that is rare in the UAE. Uveitis is a general term describing a group of inflammatory diseases that produces swelling and destroys eye tissues, reducing vision or leading to severe vision loss. These diseases often affect a part of the eye called the uvea – the middle layer of the eye, which contains many of the eye’s blood vessels. Uveitis disrupts vision by primarily causing problems with the lens, retina, optic nerve, and vitreous. It primarily affects people between 20 and 60 years old.
Uveitis patient Manuella Louis, a 42-year old Indian expatriate currently living in Dubai, had consulted eight eye doctors over two years before Moorfields was able to start planned treatment for her Uveitis, which had been poorly managed until she visited Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai. This meant that Manuella’s eyes were in poor condition and her vision limited to silhouettes and she used a magnifying glass to read. She had also undergone unnecessary cataract surgery overseas.
Manuella comments: “It was only when I visited Moorfields that I became aware of other treatment options. I started off with a personalised plan of tests and it was clear that one of my eyes was already badly damaged. Dr Avinash prioritised saving the vision in my good eye, initially with steroids to calm the inflammation, followed by immune-suppressants. I have been following this course of treatment for over two years, with no blurred vision or inflammation. I don’t need a magnifying glass anymore. Meeting Dr. Avinash and experiencing the facility and equipment that Moorfields offer, has been a blessing. I have a normal life again.”
Dr. Avinash adds: “Manuella had lost a significant amount of vision which could have been prevented if she had seen a Uveitis doctor at the early stage of the disease. Treating Uveitis takes a multidisciplinary team approach and this includes a rheumatologist and haematologist and so seeking specialist support is essential. The good news is that – with the right professional support – Uveitis patients in the UAE can lead a normal life and there are now many new treatment options available here, for example with biologic drugs, so they can stay close to home.”