Mycobacterial ocular inflammation: Delay in diagnosis and other factors impacting morbidity

Sarju S. Patel, Nehali V. Saraiya, Howard H. Tessler, Debra Anne Goldstein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Importance: The reported outcomes of ocular mycobacterial infection are commonly unfavorable. This study is among the first to elucidate factors associated with poor outcomes, as well as highlight the continued controversies in therapy, particularly the role of oral corticosteroids. Objective: To describe presentations and outcomes of mycobacterial ocular disease in the Midwestern United States. Design: Retrospective case series. Setting: A university-based uveitis clinic. Participants: Twenty-six eyes of 17 patients with mycobacterial ocular inflammatory disease seen at University of Illinois at Chicago from 1995 to 2010. Main Outcome Measures: Bivariate and regression analyses were performed to assess factors associated with delay in referral, relapse, and irreversible visual acuity loss (≤20/200). Results: Of 17 patients, 13 had isolated ocular disease, 1 had miliary tuberculosis (TB), 2 had TB lymphadenopathy, and 1 had active pulmonary TB. Fourteen had Mycobacterium tuberculosis and 3 had nontuberculous mycobacterial infection. Chest imaging was consistent with granulomatous disease in 46.7%. Average delay from ocular disease onset to uveitis service referral was 755.3 days. Posterior uveitis and non-Hispanic white race were associated with increased delay. A relapsing course was observed in posterior uveitis (odds ratio [OR], 20.0; 95% CI, 1.39-287; P = .03) and those treated with systemic steroids for eye disease (OR, 10.1; 95% CI,1.60-64.0; P = .01). Disease control was achieved in 81%, although 38.5% had profound visual loss, associated with age older than 50 years and delay in diagnosis. Patients diagnosed after 500 days from initial ocular symptoms were more likely to lose vision (OR, 20.0; 95% CI, 1.41-282; P = .03). Conclusions: Ocular mycobacterial infection occurs in nonendemic areas and cannot be ruled out with negative chest imaging. Tuberculosis and atypical mycobacterial infection should be in the differential diagnosis of ocular inflammation, regardless of patient ethnicity. Significant delays exist in instituting antimicrobial treatment, associated with increased morbidity. Early referral is necessary for patients not responding appropriately to anti-inflammatory therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)752-758
Number of pages7
JournalJAMA ophthalmology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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