Uveitis is a fairly uncommon eye condition that is characterized by inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, called the uvea or uveal tract. It normally affects people between the ages of 20 and 59, but it can occur at any age. Despite being uncommon, uveitis is a leading cause of visual impairment and prompt diagnosis is essential. Fortunately, most cases do get better with treatment if they are picked up on early. Most instances are discovered during routine eye examinations with your eye doctor.
Here’s what you need to know about identifying uveitis and what you can expect to happen during a uveitis evaluation.
Uveitis usually occurs as the body responds to an illness or infection. However, it can also be caused by an injury to the eye, or in rare cases, by some types of cancer.
There are a variety of symptoms that indicate that you may be suffering from uveitis. These include the following:
Eye pain that is a dull, chronic ache which gets worse if you try to focus on something
Blurred or cloudy vision
Sensitivity to light
Floaters moving across your field of vision
Loss of peripheral vision
The symptoms of uveitis can affect one or both eyes and may appear gradually or develop very suddenly with no warning. If you suspect that you may have uveitis, you should arrange for an evaluation with your eye doctor as soon as possible.
The first thing that will happen at your uveitis evaluation is a short consultation during which your eye doctor will find out more about the history of your eye health and vision, and how you feel your eyesight has been performing lately. This is the time to let your eye doctor know the symptoms that you have been experiencing.
The next stage of the appointment is the evaluation process. Your eye doctor will put special eye drops into your eyes in order to dilate your pupils. This makes them larger so that it is easier for your doctor to look inside your eyes using a piece of equipment called a slit lamp. Once they are dilated, you will be asked to use your eyes to follow an object that moves up and down, left and right without turning your head. You may also be asked to read an eye chart like you would expect to see in visual acuity testing and your peripheral vision will be checked. Finally, your eye doctor may use an instrument called a tonometer to measure the level of pressure inside your eyes.
Occasionally, it may be necessary to use a special fluorescent dry to help your eye doctor assess the blood vessels that serve the uvea since they could be inflamed. This involves injecting the dye, which is completely safe, into a vein in your arm where it will travel to the blood vessels of the eye. The dry will light up your blood vessels so that they can be seen and assessed more easily.
There are several different options for treating uveitis, and your eye doctor will make a recommendation based on your individual circumstances. The options are:
If your uveitis isn’t being triggered by an infection, you will most likely be prescribed steroid eye drops.
If your uveitis is affecting the middle or back part of the eye, or if the steroid eyedrops are unsuccessful, you may be given a shot of steroid medication into the eye. Rest assured the area will be numbed before you are given the injection.
These are far stronger in dose than steroids that are given in drops or shots, meaning that they tend to only be prescribed in cases where no other treatment has been effective.
If your uveitis is caused by an infection, whether viral or bacterial, you will likely be prescribed antibiotics to help treat the infection. This should be sufficient to also treat the uveitis.
There are some stronger treatments available, such as immunotherapy drugs, and if you are believed to need these to clear your uveitis, this will be discussed with you in details since these medications can potentially have some serious side effects.
If you would like more information about what is involved in a uveitis evaluation, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Quality Eye Care in Jacksonville or Gainesville, FL.