Uveitis is an inflammation of a part of the eye called the uvea. The uvea is a layer of the eye made up of three parts and it is located between the sclera and the retina. Uvea consists of iris, ciliary body, and choroid. However, in common usage it may refer to any inflammatory process involving the interior of the eye. Uveitis can occur in one eye or both eyes. Inflammation of the uvea may involve other parts of the eye, or any part of the eye, including the cornea (the clear, curved front of the eye), the sclera (the white outer part of the eye), the vitreous body, the retina and the optic nerve. Uveitis has other alternative names such as iritis, pars planitis, choroiditis, chorioretinitis, anterior uveitis and posterior uveitis. Uveitis occurs in 15 of every 100,000 people.
Symptoms of uveitis include:
- Light sensitivity
- Blurring of vision
- Redness of the eye
Causes of uveitis are many and include:
- Infections which may be bacterial, viral, fungal or parastic in nature
- Immune-related diseases that can also affect other parts of the body e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis, Reiter’s disease etc.
- It may result from severe injury to the other eye.
- In some cases, the cause is unknown.
Your eye doctor may diagnose you with anterior, intermediate or posterior uveitis depending on the site of disease. Anterior uveitis affects the iris or ciliary body. Intermediate uveitis affects the middle part of the eye while posterior uveitis usually implies that the retina or choroids is inflamed.
Test and Investigation
In view of the many causes of uveitis, your doctor will question you thoroughly. Test that may be ordered include: blood test, mantoux test and X-rays (e.g. Chest X-ray, Spine X-ray). It is very important to come to the correct diagnosis so as to plan the best treatment for you.
Treatment will be aimed at
- Treating the underlying cause of disease
- Relieving pain and comfort
- Preventing the loss of sight from the disease and its complications such as glaucoma, macular edema and scarring of the retina.
Steroid is the mainstay medication and may be given as eye drops or sometimes as tablet especially in severe cases to reduce inflammation. Other medications may be prescribed as adjuncts to steroids. Pupil dilating drops may be used to reduce pain but can result in the temporary blurring of vision.
The outcome varies considerably depending on the type of uveitis. With treatment, the disease can be controlled and vision preserved.
Complications such as glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye), cataracts and growth of abnormal new vessels may occur. If these occur, they will require treatment too.
Uveits can recur. Hence, if similar symptoms occur, one should visit an ophthalmologist to seek treatment.