Miss Saaeha Rauz PhD, FRCOphth

Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
Clinical Senior Lecturer
Consultant Ophthalmologist

Contact details

Academic Unit of Ophthalmology
Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
Centre for Translational Inflammation Research
Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre
Dudley Road
Birmingham B18 7QH

Saaeha Rauz is a Clinical Senior Lecturer in the Academic Unit of Ophthalmology, Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, University of Birmingham and an honorary Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre, one of the largest dedicated eye hospitals in Europe.

She provides a highly-specialised service for complex, blinding immune-mediated ocular surface diseases with a specific interest in rare progressive conjunctival scarring disorders such as mucous membrane pemphigoid and Stevens-Johnson Syndrome / Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis together with secondary causes of inflammatory dry eye including Sjögren’s Syndrome. She also has an interest in severe ocular infections and how to limit corneal scarring to prevent sight-loss using innovative technologies. Her large cohort of patients underpin her research activities. Capturing insight into patients’ perception of disease is pivotal to her work.


  • PhD Medicine 2002
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists 1995
  • MB BS (Lond) 1990


Teaching Programmes:

Postgraduate supervision

There is a specific interest in supervising doctoral research students in the following areas:

  • Immune-mediated ocular surface diseases
  • Conjunctival and Corneal scarring
  • Ocular surface inflammation and dry eye
  • Ocular infections

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas please contact Miss Rauz on the contact details above, or for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email: dr@contacts.bham.ac.uk or call +44 (0)121 414 5005.

For a full list of available Doctoral Research opportunities, please visit our Doctoral Research programme listings.



Inflammatory eye disease, ocular surface scarring, ocular infections, systemic drivers of ocular surface immune responses


Immune-Mediated Ocular Surface Diseases

The ocular surface is a highly specialised mucosa consisting of three distinct areas: the conjunctiva, corneo-scleral limbus and cornea. These together with adnexal structures (eyelids, lashes and lacrimal system) form an integrated functional unit that is essential for optical clarity and vision. Ocular surface diseases are a group of disorders with diverse pathogenesis where there is a failure of mechanisms responsible for maintaining a healthy protective ocular surface barrier. Disorders may be classified into diseases that are primarily the result of abnormalities of the ocular surface (nutritional, iatrogenic, trauma, immunological etc) or in which disease is secondary to abnormalities of the ocular adnexa (lid and tear film disorders, orbital and neurological diseases).  Patients with immune-mediated diseases include a range of conditions such as atopic keratoconjunctivitis, blepharokeratoconjunctivitis; graft-versus-host disease, sclerokeratitis (frequently associated with autoimmune conditions such as Granulomatosis Polyangiitis or rheumatoid arthritis), Stevens-Johnson syndrome / Toxic epidermal necrolysis, Sjögren’s syndrome and non- Sjögren’s syndrome dry eye.

Persistence of Inflammation and Conjunctival Fibrosis

Inflammation and scarring of the ocular mucosal surfaces provide particular challenges; the most commonly encountered conjunctival scaring disorder being mucous membrane pemphigoid. Although rare (Incidence 1 in 1,000,000), damage to the ocular surface through inflammation leads to conjunctival fibrosis and contracture, surface ulceration, limbal epithelial stem cell failure and eventually total keratinisation with subsequent loss of sight. Progression of disease frequently occurs without manifest inflammation making clinical monitoring problematic. A key principal is to tease apart indices describing ‘activity’ of disease from ‘damage’ caused by disease; a task adopted in the clinical setting by a Birmingham-led International Delphi Consultation. Dovetailing from this is an innovative computer-designed custom made “Fornix Depth Measurer” (FDM - a small ruler designed to gauge conjunctival scarring around the eye) that is currently within the commercial manufacture pathway awaiting CE marking. At the bench-side setting, the group is optimising complimentary molecular/cellular analytical techniques to identify systemic drivers of inflammation or surrogate markers for ‘activity’ and ‘damage’ by examining samples taken not only from the surface of the eye, but also the gut (microbiome) in health and disease. Ongoing studies in this area could provide novel data on how best to diagnose ocular mucosal scarring diseases, their prognosis, and how to go about treating these blinding conditions.

Corneal scarring

Corneal scarring is the most common cause of preventable worldwide blindness with the WHO reporting 8 million new cases of corneal blindness per year with the World Health Assembly 2014-19 Action Plan for universal access to eye health setting a 25% target for the reduction of measurable avoidable visual impairment by 2019.  Through multidisciplinary collaborations across Colleges, Institutes and International collaboration, the assembled team of clinicians, chemical engineers, pharmacologists and tissue regeneration experts, is evaluating technologies that may modify biological processes linked to scar formation to allow an optimal environment for corneal tissues to heal without scarring (thereby avoiding visually debilitating opacity). Such technologies include a novel biphasic particulate-gel that moves from liquid to gel under shear (blinking) and has capabilities of housing encapsulated drugs and cells for therapeutics. It also affords a biodegradable therapeutic ‘bandage’ for the prevention of corneal exposure or treatment of non-healing ulcers. The use of photoactivated chromophore with ultraviolet A light is also being explored.

Sight-threatening Ocular Infections

Infections are a leading cause of preventable worldwide blindness where infections of the cornea, comprise by far the largest group of disorders. Corneal Infection is the most common non-surgical emergency in the developed world and is associated with a significant cost burden to the NHS. In 2002, the World Health Organisation estimated that 10 million people were blind or visually impaired from corneal infection.  Sanitation and hygiene are paramount, and in the developing world contaminated water is a major risk (trachoma, river blindness), whereas in the developed world, contact lens wear is the most significant contributory factor. Endophthalmitis is a group of infections affecting vitreous cavity and constitutes the most feared complication following cataract surgery – the most commonly performed surgical procedure to restore eyesight. Although rare, 1:1000 cases, post-operative endophthalmitis can result in complete loss of vision.

Current research is exploring the balance between inflammatory cell recruitment into the eye for sequestering and eradicating pathogenic organisms, whilst the recruitment and inflammatory cell migration into the optically clear ocular tissue in itself, threatens sight-loss. Regulation of these inflammatory pathways is necessary to limit damage and maintain optical clarity. Rapid diagnosis of infection is key and the group, with the School of Biosciences, is currently miniaturising techniques to maximise diagnostic yield from minimal biomass ocular samples using next generation sequencing. With the Health Economics Unit,  tools are being developed for the quantification of direct costs of care, together with incorporation of clinical and patient reported outcomes to evaluate indirect costs of the long-term burden of disease and importantly, the impact of visual morbidity on the patients quality of life.

Other activities


  • Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Core to Core Programme: International genome study based elucidation of pathology and assembly of treatment strategy of the severe ocular surface disease
  • Board Member of the International Ocular Surface Society


  • Member of the NIHR Ophthalmology Research Network Specialty Group
  • Associate Editor for ‘Eye’ (Nature Springer Publishing Group)
  • Ex-Officio Past President of the Medical Contact Lens and Ocular Surface Association (UK), the British Ocular Surface Society
  • Member of the Medical Council of the British Sjögren’s Syndrome Association

Royal College of Ophthalmologists Committees

  • Member of the Scientific Committee
  • Member of the FRCOphth Part 1 Examinations sub-committee
  • Member of the Continuing Professional Development sub-committee


  • Clinical Research Specialty Lead for the NIHR CRN West Midlands - Ophthalmology Research Network
  • Education and Assessment Lead for Health Education England in the West Midlands Postgraduate School of Ophthalmology
  • Member of the Regional Speciality Advisory Appointments Committee
  • Member of the Birmingham Eye Foundation
  • Convenor of the Birmingham Eye Foundation Roper-Hall Medal and Sir Adrian Cadbury Lecture


  • Governance Advisor and Past Designated Individual  for the Human Tissue Act Licence (Licensing BMEC Tissue Bank)
  • Ophthalmology Lead for BMEC Research and Development


Oni C, Mitchell S, James K, Ng WF, Griffiths B, Hindmarsh V, Price E, Pease CT, Emery P, Lanyon P, Jones A, Bombardieri M, Sutcliffe N, Pitzalis C, Hunter J, Gupta M, McLaren J, Cooper A, Regan M, Giles I, Isenberg D, Saravanan V, Coady D, Dasgupta B, McHugh N, Young-Min S, Moots R, Gendi N, Akil M, Barone F, Fisher B, Rauz S, Richards A and Bowman SJ; UK Primary Sjögren’s Syndrome Registry (2016) Eligibility for clinical trials in primary Sjögren's syndrome: lessons from the UK Primary Sjögren's Syndrome Registry. Rheumatology (Oxford) 55(3):544-52

Williams GP, Pachnio A, Long H, Rauz S and Curnow SJ (2014) Cytokine Production and Antigen Recognition by Human Mucosal Homing Conjunctival Effector Memory CD8+ T cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 55(12):8523-30

Cottrell P, Ahmed S, James C, Hodson J, McDonnell PJ, Rauz S and Williams GP (2014) Neuron J is a rapid and reliable open source tool for evaluating corneal nerve density in Herpes Simplex Keratitis. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 55(11):7312-20

Susarla R, Liu L, Walker EA, Bujalska IJ, Al-Salem JA, Williams GP, Sreekantam S, Taylor AE, Tallouzi M, Southworth HS, Murray PI, Wallace GR and Rauz S (2014) Cortisol Biosynthesis in the Human Ocular Surface Innate Immune Response. PLoS One 9(4):e94913

Alsalem JA, Patel D, Susarla R, Coca-Prados M, Bland R, Walker EA, Rauz S and Wallace GR (2014) Characterization of Vitamin D Production by Human Ocular Barrier Cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 55(4):2140-7

Brown S, Coy NN, Pitzalis C, Emery P, Pavitt S, Gray J, Hulme C, Hall F, Busch R, Smith P, Dawson L, Bombardieri M, Ng WF, Pease C, Price E, Sutcliffe N, Woods C, Ruddock S, Everett C, Reynolds C, Skinner E, Poveda-Gallego A, Rout J, Macleod I, Rauz S and Bowman S; TRACTISS trial team (2014) The TRACTISS protocol: A randomized double blind placebo controlled clinical trial of anti-B-cell therapy in patients with primary Sjögren’s Syndrome. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 15(1):21

Ghauri A-J, Khan IJ, Cottrell P, Edmunds MR, Evans S, Williams GP and Rauz S (2014) Defining the Limits of Normal Conjunctival Fornix Anatomy in a South Asian Population. Ophthalmology 121(2):492-7

Williams GP, Tomlins PJ, Denniston AK, Southworth HS, Sreekanthan S, Curnow SJ and Rauz S (2013) Elevation of conjunctival epithelial CD45INTCD11b⁺CD16⁺CD14⁻ neutrophils in ocular Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 54(7):4578-85

Tomlins PJ, Parulekar MV and Rauz S (2013) "Triple-TEN" in the Treatment of Acute Ocular Complications From Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis. Cornea 32(3):365-9

Radford CF, Rauz S (joint first and corresponding), Williams GP, Saw VP and Dart JKG (2012) The Incidence of Cicatrising Conjunctival Disorders in the United Kingdom. Eye (Lond) 26(9):1199-208

View all publications in research portal