Uveitis is an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, which consists of the iris, ciliary body, and choroid. Several viral, fungal,or bacterial infections can result in uveitis, as can certain inflammatory and autoimmune (systemic) conditions. The cause is not known in most cases of uveitis, however.
Types of Uveitis
Uveitis has been classified into four different types. The exact parts of the eye affected by uveitis differ by classification.
- Anterior uveitis (iritis) occurs closer to the front of the eye, and refers to inflammation of the iris or the iris and ciliary body.
- Intermediate uveitis (cyclitis) refers to the inflammation of the ciliary body alone.
- Posterior uveitis (choroiditis) refers to the inflammation of the choroid, located closer to the back of the eye.
- Panuveitis (diffuse uveitis) refers to the inflammation of the entire middle layer of the eye.
The symptoms of uveitis depend on which type of uveitis the patient has contracted. Those who have anterior uveitis usually notice sensitivity to light, eye pain and redness, and a reduction in visual acuity. Interior and posterior uveitis cause blurred vision and floaters, but the patient does not usually feel any pain. A combination of all these symptoms often means that the patient has panuveitis.
If you experience unusual symptoms such as pain, discomfort or difference in your vision, you should visit an eye care professional immediately. If left untreated, uveitis can lead to cataracts, permanent vision loss, detached retina, glaucoma and optical nerve damage.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your eye care professional will conduct a complete eye exam and a thorough consideration of your health history in order to diagnose uveitis. Although the cause of uveitis is not always obvious, it is extremely helpful for treatment if one can be determined. If an eye care professional suspects or can pinpoint an underlying cause for uveitis, he or she might refer you to a specialist for treatment.
In addition to receiving treatment for any condition causing uveitis, the uveitis itself is usually treated with a steroid, which will reduce inflammation. Depending on the type of uveitis, a steroid is administered in eye drops, orally, or with injections. As anterior uveitis occurs closer to the surface of the eye, steroids in the form of eye drops are usually sufficient to relieve the inflammation. Other forms of uveitis may require oral steroids or injections. Sometimes, a small surgical drug implant is recommended for the administration of the anti-inflammatory steroid. An eye care professional might also prescribe eye drops to dilate the eye and reduce pressure.