Uveitis in adults: What do rheumatologists need to know?

Joint Bone Spine. 2015 Oct;82(5):308-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jbspin.2015.06.002. Epub 2015 Jul 14.


Rheumatologists may need to establish the etiological diagnosis and handle the therapeutic management of adults with uveitis. To date, no diagnostic strategy for uveitis has been validated by prospective studies. Investigations are selected based on the clinical features and on the anatomic location of the ocular abnormalities. Infections such as syphilis, Lyme disease, tuberculosis, and Whipple's disease may cause uveitis, with concomitant joint inflammation in a few cases. In patients with a known history of chronic inflammatory joint disease, causes of uveitis include bisphosphonate therapy and immunodepression-related infections (e.g., due to Toxoplasma or a herpes virus). Sarcoidosis is an underestimated cause of uveitis, which occurs in 15% of cases, with a predilection for middle-aged women. In spondyloarthritis, uveitis is almost always acute, unilateral, and anterior. Among patients with uveitis and spondyloarthritis, about two thirds have their joint disease diagnosed during an evaluation for uveitis. Therefore, patients with inflammatory or noninflammatory back pain should be routinely evaluated for spondyloarthritis, which is the leading cause of uveitis in western countries. The risk of blindness is extremely low, and the main complication is recurrent uveitis, seen in 50% to 60% of cases. Sulfasalazine decreases the frequency, duration, and severity of uveitis and can be used prophylactically.

Keywords: Sarcoidosis; Spondyloarthritis; Sulfasalazine; TNFα antagonists; Uveitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications*
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological*
  • Disease Management*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Rheumatology / methods*
  • Uveitis* / diagnosis
  • Uveitis* / etiology
  • Uveitis* / therapy