Meet Your DMEI Doctor: Jila Noori, MD
As a child, Jila Noori, MD, saw the miraculous way physicians could get to the root of patients’ ailments and offer them relief they couldn’t find anywhere else. Now, the Iran native gets to help Dean McGee Eye Institute (DMEI) patients understand their eye conditions and overcome them through her expertise in uveitis and retina diseases.
Read on to learn more about Dr. Noori, the newest addition to the DMEI physician roster.
Q: What motivated you to pursue a career in medicine, but also this particular specialty?
A: Taking away the pain and suffering of others can’t be compared to anything else in life. By becoming a doctor, you are able to provide this happiness for many people and their families. As a child, I witnessed my close relatives working as physicians and the satisfaction they felt alleviating patients’ pain and suffering, which was a big motivation to pursue a career in medicine.
My first real exposure to ophthalmology happened as a medical student rotating in ophthalmology departments and clinics where I observed how enjoyable clinical eye exams could be. I loved the ocular exams, imaging, and surgical techniques, and the amazing microstructures and functions of this sophisticated organ.
Q: What led you to join DMEI?
A: Last year, when I started to search for job positions, I learned DMEI was looking for a uveitis specialist to join as faculty. I discussed this with my mentors at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. They all highly recommended I pursue this great opportunity. The high quality of clinical and research activities in this well-organized institute was very encouraging. I was blessed to be invited to visit the Institute last February. That visit assured me this is the place that potentially can fulfill my future career goals.
Q: One of your clinical focuses is in uveitis, in addition to retina. Can you tell us a little bit about what uveitis is and what its main causes are?
A: The uvea is the middle layer of the eye containing much of the eye’s blood vessels. This is one way inflammatory cells can enter the eye. Located between the sclera (the eye’s white outer shell) and the inner layer of the eye (called the retina), the uvea consists of the iris, ciliary body, and choroid. Uveitis is the inflammation of these tissues that occurs as our immune system’s response to systemic or local immunologic diseases, tissue damage, germs, and toxins. It may produce swelling, redness, eye pain, sensitivity to light, floaters, and blurred vision.
Q: How do you diagnose and treat uveitis?
A: Diagnosis of uveitis includes a thorough examination and evaluation of the patient’s complete medical history. Also, eye imaging techniques help to localize the sites of inflammation inside the eye more accurately. Laboratory tests may be performed to rule out an infection or an autoimmune disorder.
Uveitis treatments primarily try to control inflammation, alleviate pain, prevent further tissue damage, and restore any loss of vision. Treatments depend on the type of uveitis a patient displays. Some treatments, such as steroid eye drops and injections around the eye or inside the eye, may exclusively target the eye. On the other hand, systemic treatments, such as injections, infusions, and steroid pills or immunosuppressive agents taken by mouth, may be used when the disease occurs in both eyes, particularly in the back of both eyes. We also target the treatment of infection when the cause is a microbial agent, including viruses, bacteria, or parasites.
Q: As an eye care specialist, you get the chance to help so many people on a daily basis. Is there one particular story from your career of which you are especially proud?
A: Any time you see a patient’s satisfaction from the care you have provided, you will be proud of yourself. Sometimes a medical eye exam and diagnosis can save a life. It happened several times in my practice as well. One of those stories involves a young girl who came to my clinic with decreased vision in both eyes. Her eye exam led to the eventual diagnosis of a brain tumor. I remember how grateful her parents were for this life-saving diagnosis. She had satisfactory improvement in her vision after her brain surgery. The early diagnosis of her malignant tumor saved her life as well.
Q: From 2014 to 2017, you were a retina research fellow at the University of Pittsburgh, where Dr. Andrew Eller was your primary mentor. You also completed uveitis and medical retina fellowships at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute/University of Miami (Florida), where you were mentored by Drs. Janet Davis and Philip Rosenfeld. Can you tell us how important it was for you to have mentors throughout your educational pursuit and how mentorship plays a role in shaping the careers of other aspiring eye care specialists?
A: There is no doubt the skills and knowledge of mentors shape the practice of the next generation of physicians. I was really privileged to spend several years of my education with world-renown mentors in the uveitis and retina fields who tried to pass all their knowledge and skills to me. I also got their support and encouragement to continue my career in the U.S. I try to follow their values and practice techniques. I think this is the best way you can express your gratitude to your mentors.
Q: It’s so interesting your three siblings are also physicians! How often do you get to see your family members and do you share a lot of medical-related stories from your respective careers?
A: My siblings and their spouses practice medicine in two other states and Toronto. We may get together one or two times a year. Sometimes, we share our knowledge to consult each other, but in general we try to enjoy the opportunity of being together outside the medical world.