Uveitis is eye inflammation of the uvea

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Introduction to Uveitis

Uveitis is an inflammation of the central part of the eye known’s the uvea. It is located in the central part of the eye, between the white, front portion of the eyeball called the sclera, and the retina that is situated at the back of the eye. The uvea supplies blood to the retina. It is a rare disease that affects younger people and that can cause permanent blindness.

Classification of Uveitis

There are several types of uveitis, depending on the part of the uvea affected, which can make a decisive diagnosis problematic.

The uvea has three parts – the iris, ciliary body and the choroids. Uveitis can affect any or all of these parts. How this will be treatment depends on the severity of the affliction and whether or not the uvea in one or both eyes is affected.

Uveitis is classified in three ways as defined by the. The International Uveitis Study Group classification system:

  • Anterior ileitis occurs when the iris or the ciliary muscles are affected
  • Posterior uveitis when the retina and the choroid is affected
  • Intermediate uveitis when the vitreous or the peripheral retina is involved
  • Panu uveitis is when two or more parts of the uvea are affected

Further definitions are classified as follows:

  • Acute uveitis is defined as lasting more than 3 months
  • Chronic uveitis is the name given to cases that last more than 3 months
  • Recurrent uveitis is named when the condition recurs after complete cure

On the basis of laterality it is classified as:

  • Unilateral uveitis when only one eye is affected but the affliction occurs in the other eye
  • Bilateral uveitis when both eyes are affected

All cases of uveitis must be correctly classified for correct diagnosis and treatment.

The most common form of uveitis is anterior acute uveitis or AAU. This type of uveitis is painful and involves the front part of the eye. The disease is usually limited to the iris.

Symptoms of Uveitis

Depending on which part or combination of parts is affected, a combination of the following symptoms will be seen. The inflammation may be localized or diffused and there may be loss of peripheral vision.

  • Redness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Floaters
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain

These symptoms may appear without any pain. In addition, appearance of symptoms does not necessarily mean you have uveitis. For that, a thorough eye examination will be needed.

Causes of Uveitis

Uveitis is caused by many factors including --

  • A reaction from the autoimmune system in the body that is associated with rheumatism and spondilysis
  • Infections from viruses like syphilis or tuberculosis
  • An injury to eye
  • Some cancers, like lymphoma, that mimic the symptoms of uveitis
  • Inflammatory conditions of the eye

Diagnosis of Uveitis

As uveitis involves many different parts of the eye diagnosis can be difficult and involve referring you to another specialist or tests may be conducted. Your eye care professional will conduct a complete examination and question you thoroughly about your symptoms and medical history.

If your physician suspects an underlying disease as the cause, then you may be referred to another specialist. A correct diagnosis is crucial for proper treatment but in some cases of uveitis, the cause may not be found.

Treatment for Uveitis

Uveitis needs to be treated right away or else complications such as optic nerve damage, retinal damage, glaucoma and vision loss can be the result.

The medical treatment that you receive depends largely on the type of uveitis diagnosed. Often, your doctor prescribes anti-inflammatory medications, such as corticosteroids. Corticosteroids can be administered as eye drops, tablets or injection. If infection is the cause, antibiotics, antiviral medications or some other medicine may be prescribed to try and control the infection.

If treated promptly, anterior uveitis can resolve itself in a matter of days to weeks. Posterior uveitis, on the other hand, may last several months or years and has the potential to cause a permanent loss of vision.

If your uveitis does not respond well to corticosteroids or causes your vision to fog up, you may be prescribed an immunosuppressive or cytotoxic medicine. A surgery called a vasectomy, which is a surgery to remove excess fluid from your eyes, may be necessary for diagnosis and treatment of uveitis.

Uveitis can reappear for no reason even after it has been successfully treated. Consult your doctor immediately if uveitis comes back as it poses a high risk of macular edema and permanent loss of vision.