Blinding Eye Disease More Common Than Thought

Study says uveitis affects three times more Americans than previously estimated

TUESDAY, March 9, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Uveitis, a potentially blinding eye disease, affects many more Americans than previously estimated, says a study in the March issue of Ophthalmology.

The population-based study concluded that the incidence of uveitis in the United States is nearly three times that of previous estimates. This study's findings indicate that more than 280,000 Americans have uveitis-related problems each year.

Uveitis is an inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye. It has a number of causes, including viral infections, fungal infections, bacterial infections, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, toxoplasmosis and eye injuries. However, in most cases of uveitis, the cause remains unknown.

Uveitis causes about 30,000 new cases of blindness each year in the United States.

"This study represents a major step in understanding who gets uveitis," says Dr. Ivan Schwab, spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and director of the Cornea and External Disease Service, University of California, Davis.

"The investigator's analysis raises very important issues -- the increased prevalence of uveitis in women and, the increased rates in older patients. This is a surprise to all of us that work in the field. It is important information," Schwab adds in a prepared statement.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has information about a promising new therapy for uveitis.

SOURCE: American Academy of Ophthalmology, news release, March 1, 2004
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