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Brief Report
December 22, 2016

Association of Low Vitamin D Levels With Noninfectious Anterior Uveitis

Author Affiliations
  • 1Harvard Department of Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online December 22, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.4888
Key Points

Question  What are the associations between vitamin D levels and noninfectious anterior uveitis?

Findings  In this case-control study, hypovitaminosis D was associated with noninfectious uveitis in the univariate analysis, and the odds of developing uveitis were 4% lower for every 1–ng/mL increase in vitamin D level.

Meaning  Lower vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of noninfectious anterior uveitis.

Abstract

Importance  Vitamin D plays an important role in both the innate and adaptive immune systems. It has been shown to contribute to the etiology of T-cell–mediated autoimmune diseases through the upregulation of type 2 anti-inflammatory T helper cells and the suppression of type 1 T helper cells. Noninfectious uveitis is postulated to be caused by immune dysfunction.

Objective  To determine whether there is an association between vitamin D levels and noninfectious anterior uveitis.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This was a case-control study. We identified patients with and without noninfectious uveitis using the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Ocular Inflammation Database and electronic medical records from March 1, 2008, to December 12, 2015, at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Uveitis and Comprehensive Ophthalmology Clinics. One hundred patients with noninfectious anterior uveitis and 100 patients without uveitis were recruited. Patients with noninfectious uveitis were diagnosed by fellowship-trained uveitis specialists after exclusion of infectious causes and neoplastic masquerades of uveitis. All patients included had a total 25-hydroxyvitamin D level recorded. Multivariate regression models were constructed to determine the association between vitamin D levels and the presence of uveitis.

Main Outcome and Measure  Presence of noninfectious anterior uveitis.

Results  We identified 100 patients (64 white, 8 African American, 25 Asian, and 3 Hispanic) with a mean (SD) age of 51.8 (15.9) years (26 men) and 100 control individuals (58 white, 23 African American, 8 Asian, and 11 Hispanic) with a mean (SD) age of 53.6 (16.2) years (27 men). Hypovitaminosis D was associated with noninfectious uveitis in the univariate analysis (odds ratio, 2.53; 95% CI, 1.42-4.51; P = .002). The association in multivariate regression after adjusting for age, sex, and race/ethnicity was 2.96 (95% CI, 1.60-5.50; P = .001) The odds of developing uveitis were 4% lower for every 1–ng/mL increase in vitamin D level (odds ratio, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.93-0.99; P = .01) in the main multivariate analysis.

Conclusions and Relevance  In this retrospective study, lower vitamin D levels were associated with an increased risk of noninfectious anterior uveitis. However, this does not confirm a causal effect.

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