Health disparities are prevalent in autoimmune diseases; however, there is a lack of national data in the United States regarding the influence of age, race or income on uveitis outcomes in particular. The results of a recent study have led researchers to think that the list of immune-mediated diseases that health care disparities affect should also include uveitis.1,2

A retrospective, observational, cross-sectional study used data from the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) for the years 2002 to 2013 and collected patient’s age, sex, race, median household income for patients’ zip code, payer status and ocular complications. There were a total of 94,143,978 discharges, which included 15,296 total cases of uveitis, with 4,538 cases of infectious uveitis and 10,758 cases of non-infectious uveitis.

Researchers found that African Americans have five times higher odds of developing infectious uveitis and 1.5 higher odds of developing non-infectious uveitis compared with Caucasians. When compared with those with private insurance, Medicare patients have double the odds of having complications from infectious uveitis, and Medicaid patients have a 1.7 higher risk. Both Medicare and Medicaid patients also have twice the odds of having complications from non-infectious uveitis compared with those with private insurance. After excluding African Americans, patients with median household income of less than $38,999 have 1.5 times odds of having infectious uveitis than those with median household income greater than $63,000.

The researchers concluded that the results could guide future research on disparity and shape health care decision-making. They are sure that health disparities that affect uveitis cannot be completely explained on the basis of racial or genetic factors.

1. Chauhan K, Scaife S, Rosenbaum JT Uveitis and health disparities: results from the National Inpatient Sample. Br J Ophthalmol. December 21, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].

2. Chauhan K. Health care disparities for infectious and non-infectious uveitis in the US. Oral presentation at: American College of Rheumatology/Association Rheumatology Health Professionals; October 2018; Chicago, IL.