Newswise — Rockville, Md. – A study has found that patients who had uveitis or scleritis — two types of eye inflammation — were more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD) as well. This finding — presented at the virtual 2021 Annual Meeting of The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) — supports current evidence that AMD develops in the presence of abnormal inflammation of the eye.

AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in elderly patients in the United States and is caused in part by inflammation in the macula, which leads to the loss of central vision that characterizes AMD. “Because of the immune system’s role, the purpose of this study was to compare AMD development in patients who take immune-modulating medicines for rheumatoid arthritis (RA),” says first author Elizabeth Dugan, BS of the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

The study was designed to compare the risk of AMD in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients on TNF-α inhibitors to RA patients on methotrexate — the first-line therapy for RA — was performed on data from 2010 - 2015 within a large U.S. commercial insurance database, Dugan found that the sample of patients with RA, immune modulation via TNF-α inhibition did not change the hazard of developing AMD. However, there was an increased hazard for developing AMD in patients with uveitis or scleritis. These findings suggest that an aberrant immune response is implicated in AMD, though therapeutic targets of these pathways remain elusive.

A current medical student, Dugan says of the opportunity to present these findings at ARVO, “I am humbled by the incredible work ARVO clinicians and scientists have accomplished this year, and I hope to join their ranks in the coming years.”

Abstract title: TNF-alpha Inhibitors and the Risk of Age-related Macular Degeneration in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Presentation start/end time: Tuesday, May 4, 2021, 2:15pm – 4pm ET

Presentation number: 3518797



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The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include approximately 10,000 eye and vision researchers from over 75 countries. ARVO advances research worldwide into understanding the visual system and preventing, treating and curing its disorders. Learn more at

Virtual Event Link: 2021 Annual Meeting of The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO)