Eye Diseases and Disorders Series
LPR staff project - May 13, 2001
(This article is for information purposes only. Always consult your doctor for medical advice.)
Rather than being a disease, Uveitis is a condition (or a symptom) that is noted by the inflamation of the interior of the eye. The inflammation can arise from a problem located within the eye, or from an illness anywhere in the body. Uveitis primarily affects people in their 20's to 50's and it can occur in one, or both eyes.
Uveitis affects three main structures of the eye: the iris, the ciliary body, and the choroid. Depending upon which structure is inflamed, uveitis is classified as:
Types of Uveitis
Uveitis can arise from many causes. These can include infections or diseases, either in the eyes or in the body as a whole. It can also be caused by trauma to the eye, or by parasites. Often, even after extensive testing, the underlaying cause is never discovered. If your ophthalmologist suspects that you have uveitis, you may be advised to have a complete physical to rule out other health problems as the cause of the condition.
- Anterior uveitis (also called iritis or iridocyclitis), is the most common form of uveitis and it affects the iris and ciliary body.
- Intermediate uveitis (Cyclitis), affects not only the ciliary body, but also the vitreous and retina.
- Posterior uveitis ( Choroiditis), involves the retina, choroid and optic nerve.
- Diffuse uveitis (panuveitis) affects both the back and front of the eye and involves the iris, ciliary body and choroid.
The symptoms for Uveitis vary greatly from person to person. In part, the symptoms experienced will depend upon what structures are involved and the underlaying causes of the problem. Basic symptoms include photophobia (sensitivity to light), pain, blurred vision, excessive tearing, smaller than normal pupils, redness in the eye - this can occur in the white parts of the eyes, as well as in the iris (colored parts). You may also experience floaters. These are caused by little wisps of material floating in the vitreous fluid of the eye, they often appear as odd shapes that seem to float in and out of your vision. Uveitis can also cause your intraocular pressure (IOP) to rise. However, this symptom is usually only detectable by having your eye's pressure checked. This is a quick and painless procedure.
A patient with uveitis may experience all, or none, of the above symptoms!
If you have any of the above symptoms, or if you have any concerns about your eyes or your vision, see an ophthalmologist immediately. Uveitis is the third leading cause of blindness because, untreated, the inflammation can cause the blood to be blocked from the eye. It can also cause your eyes pressure to rise to the point that the optic nerve is damaged, and once it is damaged - it is not repairable!
There are many treatments available for uveitis, and your doctor will discuss with you what is best for your situation. These can include topical ointments, oral medications, or injections. Left untreated, uveitis can result in loss of vision.
Uveitis can be an acute condition, i.e., it is a one time problem. However, it can also be a chronic condition, in which case repeated treatments will be necessary to control the condition.
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