What is Uveitis?
Uveitis refers generally to a range of conditions that cause inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, the uvea, and surrounding tissues. It can be painful, the eye or eyes may be red, and vision may be cloudy.
Different types of Uveitis
Anterior uveitis is also known as iritis, affects the colored part of the eye, the iris. Iridocyclitis is similar, but it includes inflammation of the ciliary body.
Intermediate uveitis can be vitritis or pars planitis. Vitritis is an inflammation of the jelly-like part of the eye, the vitreous cavity. An inflammation of the pars plana is called pars planitis.
Posterior uveitis is an inflammation of the retina and choroid. Posterior refers to the back of the eye.
Pan-uveitis is an inflammation of all layers of the uvea.
Signs and symptoms of uveitis may include:
- General vision problems, including blurred or cloudy vision
- Floaters, spots in the eye that look like tiny rods or chains of transparent bubbles floating around in the field of vision
- Eye pain and redness
- Photophobia, an abnormal sensitivity to light
- A small pupil
- Alteration of the color of the iris
A patient with uveitis who receives prompt and appropriate treatment will usually recover. Without treatment, there is a risk of cataracts, glaucoma, band keratopathy, retinal edema, and permanent vision loss.
Antibiotics or antiviral medication will be used if there is an infection.
Corticosteroid medications are sometimes given as well, in the form of eye drops (prednisolone acetate), tablets, or as an injection into the eye. Steroids are effective in treating inflammation. Before giving corticosteroids, it is important rule out corneal ulcers by using a florescence dye test.
Immunosuppressants might be recommended if symptoms are very severe and there is a risk of vision loss, or if the patient has not responded well to other therapies.
Mydriatic eye drops, such as atropine or cyclopentolate, dilate the pupil and help the eye to heal. It also helps with eye pain and stops the pupil from sticking to the lens. There may be blurred vision and unusual sensitivity to light, known as photophobia.