Uveitis is a swelling of the eye that affects the middle layer tissue known as the uvea. Symptoms of the inflammation usually come on suddenly and worsen rapidly. The condition can affect people of all ages, and the inflammation can be in one or both eyes.
Symptoms include eye pain, redness, and blurry vision. Uveitis can be caused by injury, infection, or disease and can become severe, leading to vision loss. Here are the causes and risks of uveitis.
The uvea is the middle section of the eye that sends blood to the retina. The light-sensitive retina helps focus images, sending them to the brain, and it is usually red from the blood supply. Uveitis is not typically severe, but early treatment is essential to prevent complications. Severe uveitis can lead to vision loss.
Several types of uveitis are classified according to the location of the inflammation. They include:
Anterior uveitis, which forms on the front part of the eye.
Intermediate uveitis that occurs in the mid-eye section.
Posterior uveitis forms at the back of the eye.
Pan-uveitis affects all significant sections of the eye.
Posterior uveitis is the least common and most serious type of uveitis that can lead to retina scarring.
It is unclear what causes uveitis as it frequently affects otherwise healthy people. In some cases, it has a link to health conditions such as autoimmune disorders or bacterial or viral infection. Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system attacks the body. Conditions often associated with uveitis include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis, ulcerative colitis, sarcoidosis, and Crohn’s disease.
Infections that cause uveitis include herpes, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, syphilis, West Nile virus, histoplasmosis, and toxoplasmosis. Uveitis may also result from injury to the eye, bruising, trauma, and exposure to toxins that get into the eye.
Smoking is a risk factor for uveitis. Those who smoke are more likely to suffer from the condition. Individuals who experience changes in specific genes are more likely to develop uveitis. Certain health conditions are also risk factors.
Symptoms of the eye condition may affect one or both eyes. Symptoms include:
Severe eye redness.
Dark spots floating in the vision (floaters).
An ophthalmologist will conduct an exam to diagnose uveitis. A health history is taken by examining the eye and evaluating the symptoms. Lab tests help rule out other infections or autoimmune disorders. If the specialist suspects you have an underlying condition causing uveitis, they will refer you to another specialist.
Treating uveitis depends on the type and cause. Treating the underlying cause usually relieves the uveitis. The goal of treatment is to reduce eye inflammation. In most cases, eye drops are used to treat the condition.
Additional treatment options include using steroid eye drops, wearing dark glasses, taking oral steroids, and injections around the eye. Drugs that suppress the immune system can treat severe uveitis.
Untreated uveitis can cause complications such as fluid in the retina, cataracts, retina scarring, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and vision loss.
For more on the causes and risks of uveitis, call Quality Eye Care in Jacksonville at (904) 601-1300 to schedule an appointment today.