Do you know what day it is today? It is Rare Disease Day 2022! Uveitis is a rare disease that accounts for the third leading cause of blindness worldwide. It has a global impact with a significant burden of disease. First, it is a major cause of legal blindness, and outcomes have not substantially improved in the last few years. Second, uveitis targets the young population of working age. This has a devastating impact on people’s quality of life and is an economic burden to uveitis patients and their families. Lastly, it may be the initial presentation of a severe systemic disease that can be diagnosed early and treated appropriately.
To improve outcomes of patients with uveitis, more research in the field is needed. We still don’t fully understand how the eye, an organ that should be protected from autoimmunity, is attacked by our own immune system. Why do some patients respond to first-line treatments while others have a more stubborn disease? We learned how to treat uveitis from our rheumatology colleagues. But there is a need to develop targeted therapies for uveitis patients that are disease-specific.
Today is a day to raise awareness for uveitis patients and their families. Together, we can promote research, educate and empower patients and families with a history of ocular inflammation.
by Ana Suelves, MD PHD
OIUF Fellowship at MERSI Class of 2012