Background: Although uveitis is relatively uncommon in children, its diagnosis and management present a distinct clinical challenge for the physician. An improved knowledge of disease patterns and associated morbidity will help in the care of children with uveitis.
Methods: The authors reviewed the records of 130 patients with onset of uveitis at 16 years of age or younger. The etiology of uveitis, complications encountered, treatment administered, and visual results were analyzed.
Results: Uveitis associated with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) was the largest group (41.5%) followed by idiopathic uveitis (21.5%) and pars planitis (15.3%). Twenty-six percent of the eyes had less than 20/200 visual acuity at the time of first referral. Patients with JRA had the highest rate of complications: cataract (71%), glaucoma (30%), band keratopathy (66%), and hypotony (19%). The most frequent complication of pars planitis was maculopathy (55%). Final visual acuity was less than 20/200 in 26% of eyes with JRA, 10.5% with pars planitis, and 14% with idiopathic uveitis.
Conclusion: Uveitis beginning in childhood is a serious disease associated with sight-threatening complications. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis-associated uveitis remains a leading cause of ocular morbidity in patients with childhood uveitis. Increased awareness by pediatricians, rheumatologists, and ophthalmologists of the seriousness of ocular complications of uveitis in childhood may lead to earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment regimens in the future.