Current Research Interests
My research interests are twofold:
My specialty is uveitis (inflammation of the eye). This encompasses a variety of rare but severe eye diseases that affect patients from all ages. The eye changes that occur in patients with these diseases are sometimes easily visible (corneal scars, anterior white blood cells, iris scars). However, when these changes occur in the retina, damage, scar and vision loss can occur quickly. My aim is to be able to image the retina in order to identify stages at which the vision loss and eye changes due to uveitis are reversible.
As a comprehensive ophthalmologist I see many patients that have suffered from eye trauma. Vision changes after trauma might be irreversible and sometimes the cause of the vision loss is unknown. A prior publication (see Stepien et al, 2012) showed that some of these changes are at the level of the photoreceptors and only special imaging (via adaptive optics) was able to identify the area of injury. Further research in this area would improve the way we detect post-traumatic changes in the eye.
Undergraduate: BS, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, PR
Graduate: PhD, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL
Medical: MD, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
Residency: Ophthalmology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
Fellowship: Uveitis, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
Brief Biographical Information
I have been interested in science all my life. However, it was not until I saw my first slide under the microscope in medical school that I became fascinated with the microscopic world. This led to research in herpes virus and cell interactions while in graduate school, and now a gratifying career in ophthalmology including doing cataract surgery with a microscope. Now I have the opportunity to see the eye with higher magnification through the technique of adaptive optics.
My favorite structure in the eye
The sclera – the “shell of the eye”. It is never recognized (routinely called the conjunctiva) but it performs a vital function to the eye (encompassing all eye structures, providing a barrier to invaders and holding the muscles of eye movement) and when affected by inflammation causes significant eye pain and patient distress.