Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea, which is the middle layer of the eye between the retina and the white part of the eye known as the sclera.
The uvea contains many blood vessels — the veins, arteries and capillaries — that carry blood to and from the eye. Because the uvea nourishes many important parts of the eye (such as the retina), inflammation of the uvea can damage your sight.
There are several types of uveitis, defined by the part of the eye where it occurs.
Iritis affects the front of your eye. Also called anterior uveitis, this is the most common type.
If the uvea is inflamed in the middle or intermediate region of the eye, it is called pars planitis (or intermediate uveitis).
Posterior uveitis affects the back parts of your eye.
Panuveitis occurs when all layers of the uvea are inflamed.
Uveitis may be associated with:
- A virus, such as shingles, mumps or herpes simplex;
- Systemic inflammatory diseases;
- A result of injury to the eye; or
- Rarely, a fungus, such as histoplasmosis or a parasite, such as toxoplasmosis.
Uveitis may develop suddenly with eye redness and pain, or with a painless blurring of your vision. In addition to red eye and eye pain, other symptoms of uveitis may include light sensitivity, blurred vision, decreased vision and floaters. There may also be a whitish area (called a hypopyon) obscuring the lower part of the iris.
Care for Uveitis
Uveitis is a serious eye condition that can permanently affect sight or even lead to blindness if it is not treated. A careful examination by an ophthalmologist is extremely important when symptoms occur. Your OCB ophthalmologist will examine the inside of your eye and may order blood tests, skin tests or X-rays to help make the diagnosis.
Uveitis is sometimes a multi-faceted problem because in many cases it is a hallmark of disease occurring elsewhere in the body. OCB offers specialized care for uveitis, and the coordination of care with other specialists that may be involved.
Uveitis must be treated as soon as possible. Eyedrops, especially corticosteroids and pupil dilators, can reduce inflammation and pain. For more severe inflammation, oral medication or injections may be necessary.