Objective: To evaluate the clinical usefulness of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors in patients with inflammatory eye disease that is resistant to conventional immunosuppressive therapies.
Methods: Sixteen patients (4 males and 12 females aged 7 to 78 years) who received etanercept (n = 14) or infliximab (n = 2) for either inflammatory eye disease or associated joint disease were studied retrospectively to determine the effect of these medications on their ocular inflammation.
Results: Nine cases of uveitis and 7 cases of scleritis were treated. Systemic diagnoses included rheumatoid arthritis (n = 8), juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (n = 3), ankylosing spondylitis (n = 1), and psoriatic spondylarthropathy (n = 1). Three patients had uveitis without associated systemic disease. Although 12 of 12 patients with active articular inflammation (100%) experienced improvement in joint disease, only 6 of 16 with ocular inflammation (38%) experienced improvement in eye disease. Five patients developed inflammatory eye disease for the first time while taking a TNF inhibitor. No patient discontinued treatment because of adverse drug effects.
Conclusion: TNF inhibitors are well tolerated immunosuppressive medications that may benefit certain subgroups of patients with inflammatory eye disease, but they appear to be more effective in controlling associated inflammatory arthritis.