Arthritis Drug May Help Treat Rare Eye Disease: Study

LONDON: A popular rheumatoid arthritis medication may effectively treat non-infectious uveitis, a rare eye disease that can lead to loss of vision, a new study has claimed.

The drug contains the active agent adalimumab, a therapeutic human monoclonal antibody, researchers including those from Medical University of Vienna said.

“We were able to prospectively demonstrate for the very first time that non-infectious uveitis can also be successfully treated with a cortisol-free medication,” said Talin Barisani-Asenbauer from MedUni Vienna.

“That will significantly improve the management of uveitis patients who have only partially responded to corticosteroids, need a corticosteroid sparing therapy or who are unsuitable for treatment with corticosteroids,” said Barisani-Asenbauer.

“The biologic medication adalimumab has long been used to treat rheumatic diseases and has to be injected subcutaneously every two weeks. For sufferers, steroid-free means there are fewer side-effects, so that it can be used over a longer period of time,” said Barisani-Asenbauer.
Uveitis is the name used for inflammatory conditions of the inner eye, in particular the uvea, which consists of the iris and the ciliary body in the front section and the choroid in the back section.

Inflammation can also affect other parts of the eye, such as the retina and the vitreous body. 70-90 per cent of sufferers are aged between 20 and 60 and are in the middle of their working lives, researchers said.

The first symptoms are floaters in the visual field, blurred vision, visual disturbances and photosensitivity.

Potential complications of uveitis are macular oedema (accumulation of fluid in the retina), glaucoma or cataracts, for example. Uveitis can even lead to loss of vision, they said..