Uveitis is inflammation in the uvea or uveal layer of the eye. This is the middle of the three layers of the eye, and it includes the iris (colored part of the eye), choroid (thin membrane containing blood vessels) and the ciliary body (part of the eye that joins the two together).
The uvea is very important because it contains many veins and arteries that transport blood to the eye. This is what allows the eye to function. When the uvea is inflamed, it can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms that may interfere with your vision.
The most common symptoms of uveitis include:
● Eye redness
● Blurred vision
● Eye pain
● Light sensitivity
● Floating spots
Types of Uveitis
There are different types of uveitis, and it’s important to be accurately diagnosed by an ophthalmologist so that you can receive the proper treatment.
● Iritis is the most frequent form of uveitis and is often associated with autoimmune disorders. Iritis affects the iris of the eye and often develops suddenly, lasting for weeks.
● Cyclitis refers to inflammation in the middle part of the eye that affects the muscle that focuses the lens. Like iritis, it can develop suddenly and last for weeks or months.
● Retinitis affects the back of the eye and can be difficult to treat. It’s usually caused by some type of virus such as shingles, herpes or syphilis. Retinitis is more difficult to treat because it’s so progressive.
● Choroiditis affects the layer beneath the retina and is sometimes caused by the infection tuberculosis.
How is it Diagnosed?
It’s very important to see your doctor immediately if you suspect something is wrong with your eye. Uveitis is serious, and your eye doctor will want to start you on treatment right away. If you don’t see your ophthalmologist quickly enough, you run the risk of doing permanent damage to your vision.
When you see your eye doctor, they will conduct a thorough eye exam and may order lab tests such as blood work or x-rays. You may also be referred to another specialist because uveitis is often triggered by an underlying autoimmune problem such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
Is it Treatable?
Once you are diagnosed, your eye doctor will suggest a course of treatment. Typically, it involves a steroid that will reduce inflammation, pain and swelling. Some ophthalmologists may prescribe antibiotics if an infection is the culprit, and special sunglasses may be recommended to help with light sensitivity as well.
Uveitis is nothing to mess around with. Leaving the condition untreated can lead to cataracts, glaucoma and early vision loss. Fortunately, early detection and treatment has helped many people preserve their sight and the overall health of their eyes.