Objective: To determine the safety and efficacy of low-dose methotrexate (MTX) for sarcoid-associated panuveitis.
Design: Retrospective noncomparative case series.
Participants: Twenty eyes from 11 patients were analyzed. Eight patients had sarcoidosis. Three patients were clinically suspected of sarcoidosis despite negative laboratory testing. All charts of patients with sarcoidosis and idiopathic uveitis seen by the Duke Uveitis Service from 1989 to 1997 were retrospectively reviewed. Those with sarcoid-associated or sarcoid-suspected panuveitis treated with MTX with a minimum of 6 months of follow-up were studied.
Intervention: Low-dose MTX was administered to patients weekly and patients were followed with serial ophthalmologic and medical examinations.
Main outcome measures: Visual acuity, oral and topical corticosteroid requirements, anterior chamber inflammation, and ability to undergo successful cataract extraction were used to measure the efficacy of MTX therapy.
Results: After MTX treatment was initiated, 90% of eyes had preserved or improved visual acuity. Mean initial Snellen visual acuity was 20/62 and mean final acuity was 20/40 (P = 0.044). Of those patients initially requiring oral corticosteroids, the dosage was decreased in 100%, and they were completely discontinued in 86%. The mean initial oral corticosteroid dose was 26.6 mg and the mean final dose was 1.5 mg (P = 0.012). Topical corticosteroids were decreased in 63% of eyes. The mean initial use was once every 1.6 hours, and the mean final use was once every 3.9 hours (P = 0.001). Ninety-five percent of eyes had stabilized or decreased inflammation. The mean initial inflammation score was 1.2, and the mean final score was 0.5 (P = 0.007). Five of six eyes previously unable to have cataract extraction because of uncontrolled inflammation became quiet on MTX and underwent surgery. One hundred percent of these eyes had improved vision after surgery. Side effects were mild and transient or reversible.
Conclusion: Low-dose MTX is an effective and safe adjunct to treat chronic sarcoid-associated panuveitis.