Definition:

Uveitis is a form of eye inflammation that specifically affects the middle layer tissue in the eye wall (uvea).

Characteristics of Uveitis

  • Can affect one or both eyes
  • Causes swelling and destroys eye tissues
  • Its warning signs often come on suddenly and get worse quickly
  • Is a serious condition that can lead to permanent vision loss
  • Uveitis is not limited to the uvea but also affect the lens, retina, optic nerve, and vitreous
  • Uveitis can reoccur many times

Types of Uveitis

Types depending upon disease duration:

  • Acute uveitis that last for a short time
  • Chronic uveitis that last for long time

Types depending upon infection state:

  • Infectious
  • Non-infectious uveitis

Classified by where it occurs in the eye:

  • Anterior uveitis
  • Intermediate uveitis
  • Posterior uveitis
  • Pan-uveitis

Risk factors of Uveitis

Although uveitis can affect male or female of any age but recent research have shown that persons who smoke excessively are at greater risk of developing uveitis.

  • Age between 20 to 60 years (can affect any age)
  • Affects men and women equally
  • Excessive smoking

Causes of Uveitis

In most of the cases, the exact cause of uveitis can’t be identified. It can be caused by problems or diseases occurring in the eye or it can be part of an inflammatory disease affecting other parts of the body. The main causes include:

  • Viral, fungal and bacterial infection
  • Injury causing bruises in the eye
  • Tumor in the eye or other parts of the body
  • An autoimmune disorder like sarcoidosis or ankylosing spondylitis
  • Inflammatory disease like crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals such as pesticides and acids
  • Toxins that may penetrate the eye
  • Systemic disorders like multiple sclerosis, psoriatic arthritis etc.

Symptoms of Uveitis

Uveitis can be acute or chronic depending upon the severity of disease and most of the patient complains of the following symptoms:

  • Eye redness
  • Extreme eye pain
  • Light sensitivity
  • Increased floaters (Dark, floating spots in the vision)
  • Blurred vision
  • Reduced vision
  • Complete vision loss or blindness

Diagnosis of Uveitis

Early diagnosis and treatment of uveitis is very important to prevent the complications. It requires thorough eye examination along with complete medical history of the patient and following laboratory tests:

  • An Eye Chart or Visual Acuity Test
  • A Funduscopic Exam
  • Ocular Pressure
  • A Slit Lamp Exam
  • Retinal angiography

In addition to these eye examinations, other tests like blood tests, skin tests or X-rays may be prescribed by ophthalmologist to make the diagnosis.

Treatment of Uveitis

Uveitis is a serious condition that requires immediate treatment. Ophthalmologist may prescribe the following treatment to treat uveitis:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication, such as a corticosteroid
  • Antibiotics, antiviral medications or other medicines to control infection
  • Immunosuppressive or cytotoxic drugs
  • Dark glasses to relieve light sensitivity
  • Surgical procedures:
    • Vitrectomy
    • Implanting a device into the eye to provide a slow and sustained release of a medication

Complications of Uveitis

If left untreated or under-treated, uveitis can complicate and give rise to other disorders like:

  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Optic nerve damage
  • Retinal detachment
  • Permanent vision loss