The term uveitis encompasses a very diverse group of inflammatory ocular diseases that cause a significant burden of legal and economic blindness. Indeed, the socioeconomic impact of uveitis is at least as significant as that of diabetic retinopathy and, in the majority of cases, those affected are young individuals of working age. Significant progress has been made in our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the inflammatory process through the use of animal models, but correlation with human disease has proved elusive and many scientific approaches which appear highly effective in animal models prove to be less effective in patients. Nevertheless, effective, targeted treatments are needed in uveitis as current treatment is based on corticosteroids and immunosuppressive drugs whose usefulness is limited by their many side-effects. The aims of this review are to summarize the state of clinical research in uveitis, to identify gaps in our knowledge, and to propose new opportunities and methodologies for future developments in all aspects of uveitis research, including epidemiology, economic impact analysis, diagnosis, therapeutics, and clinical study design. Optimal patient management and efficient drug development depend on validated structured tools, such as those that have helped to drive a rapid acceleration in the means and methods available to assess and treat patients with rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. Uveitis care should witness a similar boom as the issues discussed are resolved.
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