Uveitis is the swelling of the uvea or the middle layer of the tissue in the eye wall. The uvea is responsible for supplying blood to the retina, the light-sensitive tissue of the eye, which transposes images to the brain to interpret. The swelling of the uvea could be caused due to an injury, infection, or an autoimmune disease. Though the exact cause of the condition is not known, certain factors such as an injury or an infection in the eye are found to increase the risk of uveitis. An early diagnosis of this condition can prevent permanent loss of vision and other complications.
There are four types of uveitis classified by the area of inflammation in the eye.
1. Anterior Uveitis (front of the eye):
Anterior uveitis is often referred to as “iritis” because it affects the iris which is the colored part of the eye in the front. This is the most common type of uveitis and occurs in healthy people. It can affect one eye or both at once. This is a less serious type of uveitis.
2. Intermediate Uveitis (middle of the eye):
Intermediate uveitis affects the middle part of the eye and is called “iridocyclitis”. The word “intermediate” in the name refers to the location of the inflammation and not the severity of the inflammation. This type of uveitis may occur in healthy people and is linked to an autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis.
3. Posterior Uveitis (back of the eye):
Posterior uveitis, also be referred to as “choroiditis” because it affects the choroid (thin layer of tissue part of the middle layer of the eye wall). The tissue and blood vessels of the choroid are important because they deliver blood to the back of the eye. This type of uveitis usually occurs in people with an infection from a virus, parasite, or fungus.
It can also occur in people with an autoimmune disease. Posterior uveitis is a more serious type of uveitis than anterior uveitis. This is because it can cause scarring in the retina. The retina is a layer of cells in the back of the eye. Posterior uveitis is the least common form of uveitis.
4. Pan-Uveitis (all parts of the eye):
When inflammation affects all major parts of the eye, it is called pan-uveitis. It is a combination of symptoms from all the above three types of uveitis.
The exact cause of uveitis is not known. However, most medical practitioners believe that uveitis can result from an infection, or an autoimmune disease (conditions where your immune system attacks your healthy cells by mistake). It can be associated with a variety of underlying conditions or factors, including:
Idiopathic: In some cases, the cause of uveitis may be unknown.
The symptoms of uveitis can occur in one or both eyes. These include.
Initially, a doctor will consider your symptoms to have a first line of suspicion that you may have uveitis. Your eye health will be evaluated followed by eye tests which will examine your severity. This includes tests that examine the affected eye completely.
In case the doctor is not able to draw any conclusions from the above evaluations, further examination protocols may be prescribed to help identify the underlying cause leading to uveitis. This includes:
If uveitis is left untreated, it leads to the following complications:
Seeking early treatment for an autoimmune disease or infection can help prevent uveitis to some extent. If you experience dark spots floating when looking at something accompanied by pain and redness in the eye, talk to an experienced ophthalmologist immediately. Diagnosing and treating uveitis can prevent further risks of vision loss.
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You may experience a sharp eye pain that comes suddenly and fades accompanied by blurry vision.
Yes, uveitis can cause permanent blindness or loss of vision if left untreated. However, with appropriate and timely treatment, most cases of uveitis can be managed effectively and do not result in permanent vision loss.
While there are some natural remedies that may help alleviate symptoms associated with uveitis such as warm compresses. There is no known natural cure for the condition. Treatment for uveitis typically involves anti-inflammatory medication and in some cases surgery.
With treatment at the right time, you can get relief from uveitis symptoms in about 2 to 5 weeks. However, the recovery time for uveitis can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause.
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