What is uveitis?
Uveitis is a term that refers to inflammation of a part of the eye called the uvea. The uvea is the middle layer of the eye; it protects the eyeball and provides most of the blood supply to the retina. There are multiple types of uveitis, as detailed below. Uveitis is often connected with other diseases or conditions. It can occur in all ages, but primarily affects people between 20 and 60 years of age.
What are the types of uveitis?
The type of uveitis depends on the part of the eye that is inflamed. It can affect one or both eyes.
- Iritis, or anterior uveitis: Affects the front of the eye. The most common type of uveitis.
- Cyclitis, or intermediate uveitis: Affects the ciliary body, the area just between the iris and the choroid.
- Choroiditis, or posterior uveitis: Affects the retina and/or the optic nerve, and may lead to permanent vision loss. The most uncommon form of Uveitis.
- Pan-uveitis: Affects all three major parts of the eye.
What are the symptoms of uveitis?
Symptoms often come on suddenly and can worsen rapidly. They include, but are not limited to:
- Eye redness
- Eye pain
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurry vision
- Dark spots in one’s field of vision, or “floaters”
- Vision loss
It is recommended to contact an ophthalmologist as soon as possible after symptoms arise.
What causes uveitis?
In many cases, the cause of uveitis is unclear. Typical causes include:
- Eye injury
- Eye surgery
- Autoimmune disorders like sarcoidosis or ankylosing spondylitis
- Inflammatory disorders like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Toxins that penetrate the eye
- Eye cancers like lymphoma
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to tissue damage, toxins and germs, which is why inflammation is a characterizing feature of uveitis.
How is uveitis diagnosed?
Uveitis is diagnosed using the following procedures:
- A complete eye exam
- Thorough recording of medical history
- Lab tests
- Blood test
- Analysis of fluid from the eye
What are the treatments for uveitis?
Treatment plans depend on the kind of uveitis the patient has. Treatment includes, but is not limited to:
- Treating the underlying infection or immunological disorder, often through:
- Drugs that reduce inflammation
- Drugs that fight bacteria or viruses
- Drugs that affect the immune system
- Eye drops
- Follow up appointments to make sure the uveitis doesn’t come back
Where can I find out more about uveitis?