Too much of one thing or too little of another: what’s behind your intermediate uveitis?

Research details

  • Type of funding: Fight for Sight Small Grant Award
  • Grant Holder: Professor Miles Standford
  • Institute: St Thomas’ Hospital
  • Region: London
  • Start date: May 2016
  • End Date: June 2017
  • Priority: Causes
  • Eye Category: Ocular inflammatory


Intermediate uveitis is condition that can be sight threatening. It happens when white blood cells enter the very middle part of the eye (the part that contains vitreous gel). This leads to inflammation.

At the moment there is no good way for eye doctors to predict who will respond well to treatment and who won’t. But the research team has previously found that a poor response is linked to changes in certain molecules called cytokines.

Some cytokines can increase inflammation while others can reduce it. The researchers found changes that do both. But it was a small study. So the aim of this project is to look at a much larger group of patients to confirm the previous results.

The study participants are people who’ve been attending the clinic for over 5 years, so the team has good information about their response to treatment. In this case a poor response means sight that’s too poor to be allowed to drive. Participants are having DNA tests to find out about changes to their cytokyne genes so the results can be compared to how well they can see.

The results will be important for two reasons. 1) It could mean that doctors know in advance who might do poorly and would be able give them more aggressive treatment. 2) It could lead to individually tailored treatment. If one patient is over-producing a cytokine that ramps up inflammation, they could have a drug that targets this particular cytokine. Whereas if someone is has too little of a cytokine that reduces inflammation, they could be given a booster.