As West Virginia University’s sole fellowship-trained uveitis specialist, Grace Levy-Clarke, M.D., provides patients with a much-needed service while also educating the next generation of ophthalmologists on the treatment and management of complex ocular diseases.
Uveitis is a rare form of eye inflammation that affects the middle layer of tissue in the eye wall known as the uvea. The disease can be extremely serious, Dr. Levy-Clarke explained, and can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated.
After learning in-depth about uveitis from a specialist during her ophthalmology residency, Levy-Clarke became fascinated with the subject and eventually enrolled in the Clinical Research Fellowship in Ocular Immunology and Uveitis at the National Eye Institute.
Levy-Clarke joined the West Virginia University Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences as an assistant professor in 2021, becoming the only fellowship-trained uveitis specialist practicing at the WVU Eye Institute.
“With uveitis being such a rare disease, many academic centers won’t allow you to specialize in only uveitis as a faculty member, but that wasn’t the case here at WVU,” Levy-Clarke explained.
“We were very excited by the opportunity of adding Dr. Levy-Clarke to our faculty and further expanding the services offered at the Eye Institute to include uveitis care,” Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Chair Thomas Mauger, M.D., said. “Having Dr. Levy-Clarke at the Eye Institute allows us to provide a much-needed service to our patients from across the region.”
Levy-Clarke said that she is currently the only fellowship-trained uveitis specialist practicing in West Virginia, and that she sees patients from across the state, as well as patients from the neighboring states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
“Uveitis patients are what we call ‘frequent flyers’ because management of the disease often requires a lot of clinical visits,” Levy-Clarke said. “This gives me the opportunity to develop a close relationship with all of the patients, which is so critical in my job, treating potentially blinding diseases with high-risk medications.”
Levy-Clarke called being a uveitis specialist at the WVU Eye Institute her ‘most prized opportunity,’ because it allows her to provide a much-needed service to patients, while also helping educate residents about uveitis and other rare ocular inflammatory diseases.
“Uveitis specialists are a dying breed, and that is something I aim to change here at WVU,” Levy-Clarke said.
She said that WVU gives her the opportunity to introduce residents to the field of ocular immunology and provide them with opportunities to train hands-on with her while learning about rare ocular diseases such as uveitis and ocular sarcoidosis.
“At WVU I am able to help provide residents with a background in uveitis and ocular immunology, which is an opportunity that may not be available at other training institutions,” she explained. “This allows us as faculty to further ensure that our residents are receiving a well-rounded education in ophthalmology that thoroughly explores each subspecialty.”