Uveitis is an eye condition in which the eye’s uvea becomes inflamed. The uvea includes the choroid, which is the network of small blood vessels located near the retina in the back of the eye. The choroid provides the retina, which is the part of the eye that processes images, with nourishment. The uvea also includes the ciliary body, which is found behind the iris. The ciliary body is responsible for producing fluid, which fills the anterior portion of the eye. And, the uvea also includes the iris, which surrounds the pupil, and contains the eye color.
There are three different types of uveitis, depending on where the inflammation is located. Inflammation of the iris, which is called iritis, or of the ciliary body in combination with the iris, is called anterior uveitis, and is the most prevalent form of uveitis. Inflammation of the ciliary body is called intermediate uveitis. Inflammation of the choroid is called posterior uveitis. Inflammation in all portions of the uvea is called diffuse uveitis.
Complications often arise from uveitis, as most cases are chronic, and can lead to retinal detachment, cataracts and glaucoma. These eye diseases can ultimately lead to vision loss.
Symptoms of Uveitis
Symptoms of uveitis include blurry vision, pain, red eyes, sensitivity to light, or floaters. Symptoms of uveitis can happen very quickly, and generally affect patients between 20 years of age and 50 years of age. It’s important to see an eye doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
Causes of Uveitis
Generally doctors don’t know what causes uveitis. Sometimes uveitis is connected with eye injuries, viral infections such as herpes, and inflammatory disorders including colitis, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclorosis. Uveitis has also been associated with autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, and other infections such as toxoplasmosis.
Generally eye doctors treat uveitis with steroids, which reduce the eye’s inflammation. Steroid eye drops are used to treat anterior uveitis as it is located in the front of the eye. Treatment may be quick, and it’s possible for anterior uveitis to improve dramatically within days. Injections or oral medication is used to treat posterior uveitis, and treatment may last months before the condition is controlled. Intermediate uveitis can be treated either with drops, injections or medication, depending on which symptoms you have. Surgical implants are an option for treating posterior uveitis as well.
If uveitis is the cause of elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), your eye doctor may prescribe medication which will reduce the IOP to normal levels. Your eye doctor may also prescribe various medicines and treatments if an infection is causing the uveitis.
Uveitis can be a recurring disease. It’s important to visit your eye doctor if any symptoms reappear.