Uveitis is an inflammatory disease that results to swelling and damages tissues in the eyes. In most cases, it affects the uvea, but it can also impact other parts of the eyes. It can affect one or both eyes, and may last for a short or long period of time. Depending on how severe it is, recurrence may take place.
There are different types of uveitis, and they are classified according to the area of the eye they affect. Let’s look at each of them:
- Anterior Uveitis (Iritis) – Iritis occurs in front of the eye and is the most common type of uveitis. It occurs mostly among young and middle-aged people. It can occur both in healthy individuals and people who are suffering from infectious diseases.
- Intermediate Uveitis (Cyclitis) – Cyclitis causes inflammation in the vitreous. It is common among young adults and linked to conditions such as multiple sclerosis.
- Posterior Uveitis (Chroditis and Retinitis) – Posterior uveitis is the least common among all the types. It happens at the back of the eye and affects the retina and choroid.
- Pan or Diffuse Uveitis (Panuvitis) – Panuvitis occurs and affects all the layers or parts of the uvea.
The last three classifications—intermediate, posterior, and pan—are the most severe forms of uveitis and they all have higher chances of recurrence. If they are left untreated, they may lead to blindness.
What is the Uvea?
The uvea is the part of the eye that’s situated in between the sclera (white area of the eye) and retina (inside the wall of the eye). It’s consisted of the iris, ciliary body, and choroid and contains much of the eye’s blood vessels.
What causes Uveitis?
Uveitis is triggered by inflammation in the eyes. Inflammation is the body’s innate response when there’s damage or toxins in the body. As a result, swelling, redness, and heat may occur in the affected area.
Uveitis can be caused by:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Eye surgery or injury
- Inflammatory disorder
- Cancer that affects the eye
- Bruises in the eye
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of uveitis can occur suddenly and worsen in a gradual manner. Here are signs you need to watch out for if you think you’re at risk for uveitis:
- Decreased vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Eye pain
- Photophobia or sensitivity to light
Ways to Reduce Risk
Possibly, the best way to reduce your risk for uveitis or any eye condition for that matter is to take care of your eyes.
Make healthy choices such as eating the right kind of food and getting enough hours of sleep each day, so that your eyes can get the nutrition and rest it needs. Sticking to a healthy lifestyle helps you become more resilient to infection, which is another risk factor to uveitis. It’s also advisable to steer clear of situations that can cause trauma to the eyes.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
Early diagnosis is key to treating uveitis and preventing any complications. At the first sign of symptoms, it’s best to visit your doctor right away.
Uveitis is diagnosed through assessing your medical history and undergoing examinations like visual acuity test, ocular pressure, and slit lamp examination, and lab testings. The evaluation of the central nervous system may also be conducted to determine if the condition is associated with multiple sclerosis.
Treatment will depend on the type of uveitis that the patient is diagnosed with, but generally treatment options will be geared towards inflammation, pain, tissue damage, and vision restoration.
Medication for uveitis is usually prescribed with the goal of reducing inflammation and fighting bacteria and viruses. Some of the treatment options include corticosteroid eye drops, injections around the eye, immunisuppresive agents and anti-inflammatory medication. In some cases, surgical procedures may also be prescribed such as vitrectomy and the implantation of a device into the eye in order to release medication.
Uveitis, when left untreated, can lead to glaucoma, cataracts, optic nerve damage, retinal detachment, and permanent vision loss.
Are you showing signs of uveitis? Arizona Retinal Specialists can help you. We’re here to evaluate your condition and recommend appropriate treatment. If you want to know more about what we do, please set an appointment with us or visit our office in Sun City, Arizona.