Researchers test new imaging method for monitoring intermediate uveitis, a rare eye disease

An estimated 5% to 10% of blindness worldwide is due to the rare inflammatory eye disease uveitis. Intermediate uveitis is often associated with a chronic course of the disease and the need for immunosuppressive therapy. Intermediate uveitis primarily causes inflammation of the vitreous body, the gelatinous mass that fills the eye, but blood flow to the retina can also be restricted.

Early detection of deterioration of uveitis is important. This allows treatment to be adjusted, if necessary, which can preserve visual acuity and prevent further complications. However, there are currently only a few objective parameters that can be used to reliably detect a worsening of the disease. Most criteria for assessing disease activity are based on clinical examination and are comparatively subjective and not always reliable.

Therefore, researchers from the Eye Clinic of the University Hospital Bonn (UKB) together with colleagues from Medical Biometry at the University Hospital Bonn investigated new high-resolution imaging-based methods to determine disease activity and complications in uveitis. “Objective markers of inflammatory activity could not only improve monitoring in everyday clinical practice, but would also provide additional quantitative endpoints for future randomized clinical trials,” says Dr. Maximilian Wintergerst from the UKB Eye Clinic.

They tested optical coherence tomography angiography, a noninvasive imaging test that takes pictures of the blood vessels in and under the retina, as a new imaging monitoring method. By comparing several images taken in quick succession, blood flow can be detected, which allows conclusions to be drawn about the blood supply to the retinal vessels. Since the blood flow in retinal vessels is associated with the severity of inflammation, this allows conclusions to be drawn about the future course of the disease. Accordingly, this method could be used to monitor the disease and identify patients at risk of a future worsening of the disease. The results have now been published in Scientific Reports.

Source: University of Bonn, Medical Xpress, January 30, 2024; see source article