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What is Uveitis?

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Definition

Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea. The uvea is the vascular layer of the eye in between the retina and the white part of the eye known as the sclera. The uvea extends toward the front of the eye and consists of the iris, choroid layer and ciliary body. The most common type of uveitis is an inflammation of the iris called iritis. This eye condition can be very serious resulting in permanent vision loss.

Cause

Uveitis is caused by an immune reaction mounted by the body. Often times this immune reaction can be triggered by infections such as herpes, syphilis or toxoplasmosis among many others. It can also be found in association with autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis or systemic diseases such as sarcoidosis.

Symptoms

The patient often presents with a painful, red eye accompanied by light sensitivity and tearing. Vision tends to be blurred and occasionally the patient may notice some floaters.

Treatment

The goals of treatment are to reduce pain and inflammation. Patients are placed on steroid drops to bring the inflammation under control. If the inflammation cannot be controlled with steroid drops, steroid injections or oral steroids can also be used. If steroids do not help, your ophthalmologist may recommend that you be treated with other systemic immunosuppressive medications. Sometimes the patient is also placed on a dilating drop to help reduce the pain associated with inflammation. If the uveitis recurs, your ophthalmologist may want to investigate for an underlying cause such as an infection or autoimmune disease.