Behçet's Disease Resource Guide
By the National Eye Institute
Eye Diseases and Disorders Series - LPR Staff Project - December 27, 2004
(This article is for information purposes only. Always consult your doctor for medical advice.)
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The following is an abridgement of an article that was provided courtesy of the National Eye Institute. A complete, printed copy of this article, as well as a other free publications offered by the NEI, can be ordered via their NEI Publications Catalog.
Resource Guide: Behçet's Disease of the Eye
By the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health
The information provided in this Resource Guide was developed by the National Eye Institute to help patients and their families in searching for general information about Behcet's disease. An eye care professional who has examined the patient's eyes and is familiar with his or her medical history is the best person to answer specific questions.
What is Behçet's disease?
Behçet's disease is an autoimmune disease that results from damage to blood vessels throughout the body, particularly veins. In an autoimmune disease, the immune system attacks and harms the body's own tissues.
What causes Behçet's disease?
The exact cause is unknown. It is believed that an autoimmune reaction may cause blood vessels to become inflamed, but it is not clear what triggers this reaction.
What are the symptoms of Behçet's disease?
Behçet's disease affects each person differently. The four most common symptoms are mouth sores, genital sores, inflammation inside of the eye, and skin problems. Inflammation inside of the eye (uveitis, retinitis, and iritis) occurs in more that half of those with Behçet's disease and can cause blurred vision, pain, and redness.
Other symptoms may include arthritis, blood clots, and inflammation in the central nervous system and digestive organs.
How is Behçet's disease treated?
There is no cure for Behçet's disease. Treatment typically focuses on reducing discomfort and preventing serious complications. Corticosteroids and other medications that suppress the immune system may be prescribed to treat inflammation.
What is the prognosis for someone with Behçet's disease?
Behçet's is a chronic disease that recurs. However, patients may have periods of time when symptoms go away temporarily (remission). How severe the disease is varies from patient to patient. Some patients may live normal lives, but others may become blind or severely disabled.