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Clinical characteristics and aetiology of uveitis in a viral haemorrhagic fever zone.

Eye 2024 May 16
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Studies on uveitis in Sierra Leone were conducted prior to the Ebola Virus Disease epidemic of 2013-16, which was associated with uveitis in 20% of survivors. They did not include imaging or investigation of tuberculosis and used laboratory services outside the country. We performed a cross-sectional study on patients presenting with uveitis to establish their clinical characteristics and identify the impact of in-country laboratory diagnoses.

METHODS: We invited uveitis cases presenting to Eye Clinics in Sierra Leone from March to September 2022 to participate in the study. They underwent a diagnostic work-up, including fundus and ocular coherence tomography imaging. Active uveitis cases underwent further investigations including serology and immunological tests for syphilis, tuberculosis, herpetic viruses and HIV and chest radiographs.

RESULTS: We recruited 128 patients. The median age was 34 (IQR 19) years and there was an equal gender split. Panuveitis was the predominant anatomical uveitis type (n = 51, 40%), followed by posterior uveitis (n = 36, 28%). Bilateral disease affected 40 patients (31%). Active uveitis was identified in 75 (59%) cases. ICD 11 definition of blindness with VA < 3/60 occurred in 55 (33%) uveitis eyes. Aetiology of uveitis from clinical and laboratory assessment demonstrated that most cases were of undifferentiated aetiology (n = 66, 52%), followed by toxoplasmosis (n = 46, 36%). Trauma contributed to eight (6%) cases, syphilis to 5 (4%) cases and Ebola to 2 (2%).

CONCLUSIONS: Uveitis was associated with high levels of visual impairment. Posterior and panuveitis contributed to the highest proportion of uveitis cases. Laboratory studies helped differentiate syphilis as a significant aetiology of uveitis.

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