Uveitis is an internal inflammation of the eye. The condition involves the middle layers of the eye, also called the uveal tract or uvea. The uvea includes the iris (colored part of the eye), choroid (a thin membrane containing many blood vessels), and the ciliary body (the part of the eye that joins these together). The uvea contains many blood vessels — the veins, arteries and capillaries — that carry blood to and from the eye. Because the uvea nourishes many important parts of the eye (such as the retina), inflammation of the uvea can damage your sight.
What Are the Symptoms of Uveitis?
Symptoms of uveitis may include:
- Eye redness and irritation
- Blurred vision
- Eye pain
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Floating spots before the eyes
What Causes Uveitis?
There are several causes of uveitis, including autoimmune disorders (such as sarcoidosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Behcet’s disease, and ankylosing spondylitis), infections (such as syphilis and toxoplasmosis), and trauma. Additionally, some are “idiopathic,” meaning the cause is unknown.
How Is Uveitis Diagnosed?
The eye specialist will perform a careful exam of your eyes looking for signs of inflammation. He or she may order lab tests which include blood work or X-rays.
Uveitis may have an underlying cause elsewhere in your body, and the eye M.D. may want to talk with your regular health care provider or another specialist to evaluate your overall health and to tailor a treatment plan.
How Is Uveitis Treated?
Because untreated uveitis can lead to blindness, treatment needs to begin right away. Often treatment includes steroid drops to reduce inflammation in the eye. If the cause is infectious, then antibiotics are used in the treatment.
Prevention of flare-ups of uveitis requires close monitoring with repeat examinations by an ophthalmologist. The treatment must often be adjusted or modified according to both microscopic and clinical changes for optimal control.
Early diagnosis and treatment by an eye specialist is critical.