When most people think of inflammatory diseases, they tend to think of conditions that affect the joints, the skin, or organs in the digestive track. But imagine if the inflammation occurred somewhere totally unexpected. And imagine if along with the pain came the very real possibility of pain on a completely different level: irreversible vision loss.
For people living with panuveitis, they don’t have to imagine it: They live with that possibility every day.
Panuveitis causes inflammation of the entire uveal tract, which includes the iris and other parts that make up the middle of the eye. And while the symptoms of eye pain, redness, and light sensitivity may be short-term, the condition can be chronic and recurrent, and lead to irreversible vision loss if not treated promptly.
The challenge with panuveitis, as with so many diseases, is recognizing it as a distinct condition.
Panuveitis can occur as a result of another condition, such as Behcet’s disease or sarcoidosis, or be caused by an eye infection, injury, or tumor. Sometimes it’s caused by an autoimmune response, and other times the cause is simply unknown.
Regardless of the cause, the key to preventing compromised vision or vision loss is prompt treatment.
Unfortunately, treatment options specifically for panuveitis have been hard to come by. Most treatments have involved corticosteroids or oral prednisone, and until recently, there was only one FDA-approved treatment.
Fortunately, that changed this past summer when the FDA-approved Humira to treat panuveitis.
The FDA-approval is based on the results from a pair of Phase III clinical trials, and follows a European approval from earlier this year. Humira is a biologic therapy given as a subcutaneous injection, first as an 80 mg dose, then as a bi-weekly 40 mg dose.
While it’s great to have another option available, it’s still up to patients and their doctors to move fast to identify the disease. And it’s up to researchers to keep imagining new ways to fight back against panuveitis.