A Disease Called Uveitis

Your eye is red and swollen, it hurts, your vision is blurry and sensitive to light. You obviously have Pink Eye, right? Not necessarily. There are other conditions that may cause these symptoms. One of them is called Uveitis.

What is Uveitis?

The name Uveitis actually describes a number of diseases that cause inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye. They can be either infectious or non-infectious. What they have in common is that they all destroy the tissues of the eye that supply blood to the retina. Damage to the retina can cause severe eye damage or even blindness.

Types of Uveitis

There are three main types of Uveitis: The least common is Posterior Uveitis, which mainly affects the back of the eye, usually attacking both the choroid and the retina. It is also known as Choroiditis, and it is usually associated with an infection due to a virus or parasite. It may also be connected with an autoimmune disease. With Choroiditis, symptoms come on slowly and may last for years. Intermediate Uveitis often affects young adults, involves the middle part of the eye and is connected to autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis. It is also called Iridocyclitis, and it attacks the vitreous and pars plana, between the iris and the choroid. Anterior Uveitis is the most common form of Uveitis and it affects the front of the eye, comes on suddenly, and usually affects young to middle aged people. It is also referred to as Iritis, because it primarily affects the iris. Iritis often affects healthy people and can affect one or both eyes. In some cases the effects are ongoing, while in others it may go away and come back.

What Causes Uveitis?

In many cases, the cause of Uveitis is unknown. However, it has been connected to autoimmune diseases, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Reactive Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Psoriasis or Sarcoidosis. Other conditions associated with Uveitis include, Tuberculosis, West Nile Virus, Histoplasmosis, Syphilis, AIDS, Herpes and CMV Retinitis. Injury or trauma to the eye may also bring on Uveitis.

How Do You Treat Uveitis?

At the first sign of symptoms such as red eyes, pain, blurred vision, light sensitivity, floating spots (floaters), make an appointment with your optometrist immediately. The cause may not be Uveitis, but the best person to ask always is your optometrist. In addition to the usual eye tests, you may be referred to an Ophthalmologist (Eye Surgeon), who can do additional testing, and possibly send you to get some laboratory work done to be sure whether you have Uveitis or some other eye disease. Once Uveitis has been diagnosed, your ophthalmologist will likely prescribe eye drops or ointment to ease the inflammation and get the disease under control. You will likely have follow up appointments to make sure there are no reoccurrences, or to deal with relapses as they happen. Always see your optometrist as soon as you notice that something is wrong and don’t take chances with your eyes. You want to hold on to your vision for life.