Uveitis (u-vee-I-tis) is a swelling of the uvea. It is the middle layer of the eye tissue. The uvea is responsible for supplying blood to the retina, the light-sensitive tissue of the eye, which relays images to the brain to interpret.
The swelling of the uvea could be due to an injury, infection, or an autoimmune disease. The cause in some cases has been unidentified. It may affect adults or children in one or both eyes simultaneously.
An early diagnosis of this condition can prevent complications and permanent loss of vision.
In about half of the cases of uveitis, it has been difficult to identify the exact cause.
It has also been deliberated as an autoimmune disease that affects the eyes. Amongst the other causes, the following have been considered:
Side effects of medication
Injury to the eye or eye surgery
Infections such as herpes zoster, syphilis, tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, or cat-scratch disease
Inflammatory or autoimmune disorders affecting other body parts such as ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, or sarcoidosis
Rare cases, even cancer affecting the eye, for instance, lymphoma
Other factors that may aggravate Uveitis:
Alteration of specific genes in people
Symptoms of Uveitis condition include the following:
Sensitivity to light
Blurring of vision
Floaters (dark floating spots in the visual field)
Severe redness in the affected eye
The doctor when checking for uveitis based on the symptoms does a thorough evaluation of the eye after collecting the health history. It includes the following tests which examine the complete affected eye:
Vision assessment (with glasses if the patient has number) and the response of pupils when exposed to light
Tonometry: To measure the intraocular pressure inside the eye
Slit-lamp examination: To identify microscopic inflammatory changes in the cells of the tissue in front of the eye
Ophthalmoscopy: To examine the back of the eye by dilating the pupil of the eye using medicated eye drops
If the doctor is not able to draw any conclusions from the above techniques of evaluations, further examination protocols may be prescribed to help identify the underlying cause leading to uveitis.
This may also include a general medical examination along with CT and MRI scans and blood tests.
Sometimes the cause remains unidentified. The treatment regimen then is focused on controlling the inflammation in the eye to prevent damage such as loss of vision.
The goal of treating uveitis is to reduce inflammation in the eye and any other part of the body.
The treatment may be a long one lasting for a few months to years depending on the intensity of the inflammation and its response to the treatment regimen.
These forms of treatment use drugs to suppress the patient’s immune system. The doctor with scheduled visits along with regular blood tests closely monitors the condition and improvement thereafter.
Surgical and other protocols:
Vitrectomy: This procedure is used in rare cases. The vitreous of the eye is removed for diagnosis or management of the condition.
A medication-releasing implant: A small device is implanted in the eye, especially for patients who have developed posterior uveitis that is difficult to treat. The medication is a corticosteroid that is slowly released over an extended period of two to three years.
Patients treated for uveitis have the chances of developing cataracts subsequently, which will need surgery. Patients (about 30%) are also prone to increase intraocular pressure and eventually glaucoma.
The treatment duration for uveitis is dependent on the type of uveitis. Uveitis affecting the posterior walls of the eye such as panuveitis, which includes choroiditis or retinitis, takes longer to recover compared to anterior wall uveitis or iritis.
Even after complete recovery, there are chances of uveitis recurring which need to be addressed with the doctor with immediate effect.
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