Background: Uveitis is an autoimmune disease of the eye that refers to any of a number of intraocular inflammatory conditions. Because it is a rare disease, uveitis is often overlooked, and the possible associations between uveitis and extra-ocular disease manifestations are not well known. The aim of this study was to characterize uveitis in a large sample of patients and to evaluate the relationship between uveitis and systemic diseases.
Methods: The present study is a cross-sectional study of a cohort of patients with uveitis. Records from consecutive uveitis patients who were seen by the Uveitis Service in the Department of Ophthalmology at the Medical University of Vienna between 1995 and 2009 were selected from the clinical databases. The cases were classified according to the Standardization of Uveitis Nomenclature Study Group criteria for Uveitis.
Results: Data were available for 2619 patients, of whom 59.9% suffered from anterior, 14.8% from intermediate, 18.3% from posterior and 7.0% from panuveitis. 37.2% of all cases showed an association between uveitis and extra-organ diseases; diseases with primarily arthritic manifestations were seen in 10.1% of all cases, non-infectious systemic diseases (i.e., Behçet´s disease, sarcoidosis or multiple sclerosis) in 8.4% and infectious uveitis in 18.7%. 49.4% of subjects suffering from anterior uveitis tested positively for the HLA-B27 antigen. In posterior uveitis cases 29% were caused by ocular toxoplasmosis and 17.7% by multifocal choroiditis.
Conclusion: Ophthalmologists, rheumatologists, infectiologists, neurologists and general practitioners should be familiar with the differential diagnosis of uveitis. A better interdisciplinary approach could help in tailoring of the work-up, earlier diagnosis of co-existing diseases and management of uveitis patients.