quiet eyes Duke Ophthalmology’s Glenn Jaffe, MD is at the epicenter of the search for better ways to quiet the inflammation and pain of uveitis. The clinician-scientist is leading the way for two promising new treatments for patients.
VEITIS, A GROUP OF DISEASES THAT CAUSE CHRONIC INFLAMMATION IN THE FRONT OR BACK OF THE EYE, OR BOTH, CAN CAUSE PAIN, RETINAL SWELLING, AND VISION LOSS. Although relatively uncommon—it afflicts an estimated 200,000 people of all ages worldwide—uveitis is one of the leading causes of blindness in developed countries, including the United States.
Treatments to quiet the inflammation and pain of uveitis do exist, but they often come with risks and side effects. For instance, Steroids, which are the most common medications used to treat uveitis, can cause cataracts and glaucoma, as well as systemic side effects such as weight gain, difficulty sleeping, calcium loss, acne, and unwanted hair growth, especially when taken orally or injected into other parts of the body. Steroidal eye drops may work for uveitis in the front of the eye, but for posterior cases, treatment must be directed to the back of the eye. Even when injected directly into or near the eye, long-term use of steroids can be toxic. Physicians also treat uveitis with immune-suppressing medications, which carry their own concerns, including increased risk of cancer. These medications are often used “off-label,” meaning they are not yet approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of uveitis. Unfortunately, insurance companies do not always cover off-label use, making this option costprohibitive for many patients. In addition, two FDA-approved, surgically implanted sustained delivery systems can provide time-release medication directly into the eye for up to three years. DUKE EYE CENTER