Purpose: Uveitis is often a chronic disease requiring long-term medical therapy. In this report, we describe a pilot safety and efficacy trial of a novel sustained drug delivery system containing fluocinolone acetonide to treat patients with severe uveitis.
Design: Prospective, noncomparative, interventional case series
Participants: Patients with severe uveitis.
Methods: Sustained drug delivery devices designed to release fluocinolone acetonide for at least 2.5 years were implanted through the pars plana into the vitreous cavity of seven eyes of five patients. All patients had severe uveitis not well controlled with, or intolerant to, repeated periocular corticosteroid injections, systemic corticosteroids, nonsteroidal immunosuppressive agents, or a combination thereof at the time of device implantation. Before device implantation, patients underwent complete evaluation including history, ophthalmologic examination, fluorescein angiography, visual field testing, and electroretinography. After surgery, patients were reexamined at 1 week, 2 weeks, 4 weeks, and at 1- to 3-month intervals. Visual fields, electroretinograms, and fluorescein angiography were repeated at 3- to 6-month intervals.
Main outcome measures: Preoperative and postoperative visual acuity, ocular inflammation, anti-inflammatory medication use, and intraocular pressure.
Results: Patients had a diagnosis of Behçet's syndrome (two eyes), or idiopathic panuveitis (five eyes, including two with necrotizing retinitis, two with progressive chorioretinitis, and one with iridocyclitis and intermediate uveitis). Patients were observed an average of 10 months (range, 5-19 months). All eyes had stabilized or improved visual acuity after device implantation, and four of seven eyes had an improvement of three lines or more. The mean initial visual acuity, measured by Snellen chart, was 20/207, and the mean final visual acuity was 20/57 (P = 0.02). After surgery, at the final visit, no eye had clinically detectable inflammation, and all seven eyes had a marked reduction in systemic, topical, and periocular anti-inflammatory medication use. Four eyes had increased intraocular pressure 6 weeks to 6 months after device implantation. Intraocular pressure has been controlled on topical medications. No patient experienced intraoperative complications.
Conclusions: A fluocinolone acetonide sustained drug delivery device is a promising new therapy for the treatment of severe uveitis. Intraocular pressure must be carefully monitored long after device implantation. Based on these data, a randomized study of a larger group of patients is warranted.