Eye experts gather in Dublin for 9th International Symposium on Uveitis


The 9th International Symposium on Uveitis, sponsored by the International Uveitis Study Group (IUSG), is taking place in Dublin this weekend at Trinity College Dublin (18th - 21st August).

The Symposium, which takes place every four years, will feature comprehensive discussions of new topics in experimental and clinical uveitis, mechanisms of disease, and innovative therapies, including biologic agents and has attracted an audience of generalist and specialist ophthalmologists, as well as researchers and practitioners from other fields such as immunology, genetics and rheumatology.

Uveitis consists of a group of diseases characterised by significant sight threatening intraocular inflammation primarily involving the uveal tract (iris, ciliary body, and choroid), although inflammation of adjacent tissues, such as retina, optic nerve, and vitreous humour also occurs.

Mr Dara Kilmartin, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Vitreoretinal Surgeon, Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital (RVEEH), Dublin, and Prof. Conor Murphy, Professor of Ophthalmology, RCSI and RVEEH, will join a panel of distinguished international experts addressing the Symposium.

Speaking at the recent ICO Annual Conference in Killarney last May, Mr Kilmartin said, “Uveitis awareness among the Irish public and general medical practitioners is very low, despite it being “second only to diabetes as a cause of visual impairment in the working population.  It affects people between 20 and 50 years of age, in the prime of their life, and their ability to function effectively is often severely impacted by the disease and the treatment, the immunosuppression monitoring, and so on.”

He added, “There are only three-to-four dedicated uveitis clinics in the country, given the specialist care required.  Patients with systemic diseases like sarcoidosis and types of arthritis like ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and juvenile arthritis have a higher risk of uveitis.”

The incidence of uveitis varies from 14 to 52.4/100,000 with the overall prevalence around the world is up to 0.73% (approximately 5-20% of legal blindness in developed countries is due to uveitis). A recent study found that the extrapolated 10-year incidence of uveitis was almost three times higher than that reported almost 40 years previously. 

Many cases will resolve rapidly, but a significant number of patients develop persistent disease with inflammatory damage to ocular structures resulting in severe visual impairment. The main causes of sight loss are cystoid macular oedema, cataract, and glaucoma.

Acute anterior uveitis is the commonest subtype and carries the best visual outcome, with a worse visual prognosis seen in patients with posterior uveitis and panuveitis.

In non-infectious causes, therapy is usually aimed at dampening down the immune response with corticosteroids being the first line treatment. In sight threatening disease immunosuppressive agents may need to be added to improve or preserve sight.

The organising committee said the varied programme presenting a mix of basic science and clinical research addresses many of the questions affecting specialists in ocular inflammation and should provide grounding for continued discovery and innovation in the field for years to come.



19th August 2016