What is uveitis?
Uvea is the middle layer of the eye situated between the retina and the sclera, the white layer of the eye. It extends from the back of the eye towards the front and includes the iris, colored part of the eye, choroid layer and the ciliary body. It is richly supplied with blood vessels and provides blood supply to the retina and other parts of the eye. The inflammation of this uvea is called uveitis. It can occur at the back or front of the eye or may involve the whole uvea of the eye. Inflammation may also occur in the fluid present in the middle of the eye.
What causes uveitis?
The most common type of uveitis is iritis which is the inflammation of the iris. It may be caused due to infection of the eye or systemic infection present in the body such as herpes, syphilis or tuberculosis. It may also occur due to autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis, eye injury or inflammatory disorders such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms will include redness of the eye, pain, blurring of vision along with the presence of floating translucent irregular bodies in the field of view and sensitivity to light. The symptoms may occur suddenly or may develop slowly over time. It may occur in one or both eyes.
What are the consequences of not treating uveitis?
If not treated timely, it may cause cloudiness of the eye lens, increase in the intraocular eye pressure, and detachment of the retina, fluid in the retina or loss of vision. Thus, if you observe any of the symptoms of uveitis, you should consult an eye specialist at the earliest.
How is uveitis diagnosed?
Your doctor will examine your eye in detail and may advise treatment depending on the cause of the uveitis.
What are the treatment options for uveitis?
Corticosteroid eye drops are prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation. If it is due to infection, antibiotic or antiviral eye drops are given along with the corticosteroid eye drops. Immune suppressing drugs are given if it is too severe and cannot be controlled with other medications. If inflammation is severe, then it may take a longer time to subside. Generally, mild inflammation goes away within a few weeks of treatment.
Is surgery required?
Sometimes, vitrectomy surgery is required, to take a sample of the fluid inside your eye (vitreous) to find out the cause for a specific eye infection. It is also used for treatment, wherein the scar tissue present in the otherwise clear fluid is removed.
What can I do to reduce my risk of visual loss from uveitis?
Even after complete recovery, uveitis may recur. So, on reappearance of any symptoms, you should consult the eye specialist at the earliest. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent loss of vision due to uveitis.