Causes and frequency of blindness in patients with intraocular inflammatory disease

Br J Ophthalmol. 1996 Apr;80(4):332-6. doi: 10.1136/bjo.80.4.332.


Aims/background: Uveitis, an intraocular inflammatory disease, is a significant cause of visual impairment. It is not known how many patients with uveitis will retain visual acuity and how many develop visual impairment or even blindness. The aim of this study was to assess the frequency of blindness in patients with uveitis and, more specifically, to identify the clinical profile of patients at risk for visual loss.

Methods: A cross sectional and retrospective study of 582 patients with uveitis who visited the ophthalmology departments of two university hospitals in the Netherlands was performed.

Results: Within the group of 582 patients, 203 (35%) exhibited blindness or visual impairment; bilateral legal blindness developed in 22 (4%) patients, 26 (4.5%) had one blind eye with visual impairment of the other, and nine (1.5%) had bilateral visual impairment. Unilateral blindness developed in 82 (14%) patients, whereas 64 (11%) exhibited unilateral visual impairment. The most important cause of both blindness and visual impairment was cystoid macular oedema (29% and 41%, respectively). Complications of uveitis were encountered in more than half of the patients and 23% underwent one or more surgical procedures. When the patients were subdivided according to anatomical site, those with panuveitis had the worst visual prognosis. The systemic diseases associated with a poor visual prognosis were juvenile chronic arthritis and sarcoidosis. Ocular toxoplasmosis was the most frequent cause of unilateral visual loss.

Conclusions: Cystoid macular oedema is the most frequent complication of uveitis and its occurrence plays a decisive role in the visual outcome of this disease.

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Juvenile / complications
  • Blindness / epidemiology*
  • Blindness / etiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Macular Edema / complications*
  • Macular Edema / etiology
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sarcoidosis / complications
  • Uveitis / complications*