Uveitis is an inflammatory condition of the eye wall that, untreated, can lead to blindness. Corticosteroids induce elevated intraocular pressure (glaucoma) and clouding of the lens (cataract), both conditions that can also lead to blindness. Current practice includes glaucoma monitoring, followed by treatment for glaucoma and (generally) cessation of corticosteroid therapy. Cataracts are treated by surgical replacement of the lens. For many uveitis patients, glaucoma and cataract are detected only after there is eye damage.
About 70% of uveitis patients have disease restricted to the anterior chamber of the eye, which is accessible to topical ophthalmic corticosteroids. Oral corticosteroids are prescribed for some patients. About 40% of patients treated with topical ophthalmic corticosteroids develop glaucoma. A safer topical ophthalmic corticosteroid will enable a practice change for iatrogenic glaucoma, from wait-then-treat to prevention.
The other 30% of uveitis patients have disease that involves portions of the eye not reached by topical drugs. These patients are treated with either oral or locally injected corticosteroids. Sparrow's investigational drug might also be beneficial to these patients.
Additional promising indications for a safer topical ophthalmic corticosteroid include diabetic macular edema and retinal vein occlusion, conditions often treated with corticosteroid implants.