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Definition of
Uveitis

Uveitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the uvea, which is the middle layer of the eye. It can cause eye pain, redness, light sensitivity, and vision changes.

Risk factors for
Uveitis

  • Certain systemic conditions 
  • Autoimmune disorders 
  • genetic predisposition
  • Exposure to certain toxins or chemicals
  • Physical trauma or injury to the eye
  • Infections

Symptoms

Redness

The affected eye may appear red or bloodshot due to the inflammation of the blood vessels in the eye’s white (sclera).

Uveitis often causes eye pain, which can range from mild discomfort to severe, sharp, or throbbing pain. The pain may worsen with eye movement.

Blurred vision is a common symptom, and it may result from inflammation affecting the eye’s ability to focus properly.

Some individuals with uveitis may experience eye discharge, which can be clear, watery, or mucous-like.

Depending on the location of uveitis within the eye, the pupil may become irregularly shaped or may not react normally to changes in light.

In some cases, particularly with chronic uveitis, the iris (colored part of the eye) may change color or develop adhesions, leading to a condition known as heterochromia.

If left untreated or not adequately managed, uveitis can lead to vision loss or other complications, including cataracts, glaucoma, or retinal damage.

Uveitis can make the eyes highly sensitive to light, causing discomfort and the need to squint or shield the eyes from bright light.

The severity and combination of symptoms can vary widely among individuals with uveitis. If you experience any of these symptoms, especially eye pain, light sensitivity, or vision changes, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention from an eye care specialist, such as an ophthalmologist.

Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to manage uveitis effectively, reduce inflammation, and prevent potential vision loss and complications.

Treatment Types

Oral Corticosteroids

In more severe cases or when uveitis affects the back of the eye (posterior uveitis), oral corticosteroids may be prescribed to control inflammation. These are typically used for a short duration to avoid systemic side effects.

For chronic or severe uveitis, especially when corticosteroids alone are insufficient or not well-tolerated, immunosuppressive drugs such as methotrexate, azathioprine, mycophenolate mofetil, or cyclosporine may be prescribed. These drugs work to suppress the immune system’s overactive response.

Corticosteroid eye drops are typically the first-line treatment for mild to moderate uveitis. They help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms such as redness and pain. Prolonged use of corticosteroid eye drops may require close monitoring due to potential side effects.

Biologic agents, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors like adalimumab or infliximab, can be effective in managing certain types of uveitis, particularly those associated with autoimmune diseases.

Punctal plugs, which block tear drainage, may be used to retain natural tears on the eye’s surface, providing additional moisture and symptom relief.

Some individuals may explore complementary therapies like acupuncture, dietary supplements, or herbal remedies to manage uveitis symptoms. It’s essential to discuss these options with a healthcare provider before use.

In some situations, surgical procedures may be necessary to address complications of uveitis or to manage severe cases. These procedures include vitrectomy (removal of the vitreous gel) and cataract surgery.

The specific treatment plan is determined by an ophthalmologist or uveitis specialist based on the patient’s condition, the type of uveitis, and individual factors. It’s important for individuals with uveitis to follow their prescribed treatment regimen, attend regular follow-up appointments, and report any changes in symptoms promptly. Early and appropriate treatment is essential to manage uveitis effectively and minimize the risk of complications, including vision loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is uveitis?

Uveitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the uvea, which is the middle layer of the eye. It can cause eye pain, redness, light sensitivity, and vision changes.

Common symptoms include eye pain, redness, light sensitivity (photophobia), blurred vision, floaters, and, in severe cases, vision loss.

Uveitis can be caused by various factors, including autoimmune diseases, infections, trauma, systemic diseases, and sometimes no apparent cause (idiopathic uveitis).

Uveitis can be a serious eye condition, especially if left untreated or not adequately managed. It may lead to complications like glaucoma, cataracts, retinal damage, and permanent vision loss.

Uveitis is typically diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination by an ophthalmologist. This examination may include visual acuity tests, eye pressure measurements, and imaging studies.

No, uveitis itself is not contagious. It is an inflammatory condition within the eye and cannot be spread from person to person.

Uveitis can increase the risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma as complications. Timely management of uveitis is essential to reduce the risk of these secondary conditions.

Yes, uveitis can recur, especially in cases of chronic or recurrent uveitis. Regular follow-up care and monitoring are important to detect and manage recurrences promptly.