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Uveitis is an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, which can be caused by a broad range of diseases or conditions. It is called uveitis because the area that is inflamed is the uvea, although the condition can also affect other areas in the eye such as the lens, optic nerve and the retina. Uveitis can cause swelling and tissue damage and lead to reduced vision or in more serious cases, even blindness. It usually responds well to treatment, however, there may be a tendency for the condition to recur and sometimes it can be chronic.
While in some cases there is no obvious underlying cause, in others, a direct link can be found. It is often associated with eye injuries, viral infections, toxins or tumors in the eye, with systemic autoimmune disorders (such as AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis), or inflammatory disorders (such as crohn’s disease, colitis or multiple sclerosis).
The condition can affect one or both eyes and sometimes the symptoms can come on very rapidly. They may include a red, sore and inflamed eye, blurring of vision, sensitivity to light, an irregular pupil size and sometimes seeing floaters within your field of view. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. Uveitis is usually a chronic disease that can lead to vision loss as well as other eye problems such as glaucoma, retinal detachment and cataracts.
Since the symptoms of uveitis are similar to those of other eye diseases, our doctors will carefully examine the inside of your eye under bright light and high magnification to determine the presence and severity of the condition. They may also perform other diagnostic procedures and arrange for other tests to help pinpoint the cause. Our doctors will work with you and your health care professionals to help aid in the diagnosis of the possible underlying condition that may have caused uveitis to occur in the first place.
Uveitis treatment is designed to reduce and eliminate inflammation and pain, prevent damage to the tissues within the eye and prevent vision loss. The inflammation is typically treated with anti-inflammatory steroid eye drops, pills or injections, depending on where the condition presents in the eye. Additional medications or treatments may be prescribed depending on the cause of the condition. If we feel that treatment outside of our scope is necessary, we will refer you to the appropriate specialist. For example, when the cause is an autoimmune disease, immunosuppressant medications may also be prescribed by a specialist. If there is a viral infection or elevated intraocular pressure, appropriate medications will be given to treat these issues. Treatment usually takes several days, or in some cases up to a few weeks. Often uveitis is a chronic disease, so it is important to see the eye doctor any time the symptoms re-appear. If untreated, uveitis can affect adjacent eye tissues, causing the development of glaucoma, cataracts or retinal edema leading to loss of vision.