Identifying children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis at risk of uveitis

Research details

  • Type of funding: Fight for Sight / Sparks Small Grant Award
  • Grant Holder: Professor Neil McHugh
  • Institute: University of Bath
  • Region: South West
  • Start date: January 2017
  • End Date: January 2018
  • Priority: Early detection
  • Eye Category: Childhood-onset


Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a common long-term condition that affects 1 in 1000 children, worldwide. Up to about 1 in 3 children with the condition will eventually develop inflammation within the eye (uveitis) as a result. If the uveitis isn’t picked up or treated properly it can lead to serious complications like cataract, glaucoma, amblyopia and macular oedema. It’s a major cause of sight loss or blindness in these children.

The earlier this type of uveitis is picked up, the better the outcome. But there is no specific test that can predict who is most likely to develop the condition as yet.

At the moment it’s diagnosed in the UK by screening children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis every few months, for up to 8 years. This is disruptive for children, parents and schools and expensive for the NHS. Most of the screened children won’t get uveitis.

So in this project the team will try to develop an immune system test that can tell the difference between high-risk and low-risk children. This would mean they could be treated before uveitis has a chance to take hold.