Uveitis is inflammation inside the eye and affects women, men and children. Though relatively uncommon, it can be serious with complications that can cause loss of vision. It is estimated that the more serious types of uveitis are responsible for 1 in every 10 cases of visual impairment. This means that early diagnosis and treatment is critical.
Symptoms of uveitis:
Symptoms of Uveitis can include a painful red eye that ranges from mild aching to intense discomfort; blurred or cloudy vision; sensitivity to light; new ‘floaters’ on the eye; loss vision; and headaches. The symptoms can develop suddenly or appear gradually over days and can last for a short time, or be more prolonged or recurring.
- a painful red eye – ranging from mild aching to intense discomfort; the eye can feel tender or bruised
- In children, the eye may not become red
- blurred or cloudy vision
- sensitivity to light
- marked or new floaters – shadows, webs, dots or veils that move across the field of vision
- loss of the ability to see objects at the side of your field of vision
- a pupil shaped differently or that doesn’t get smaller when reacting to light
Types of uveitis
- anterior uveitis is the most common type of uveitis – three out of four cases, causing pain and redness and may recur,
- intermediate uveitis – inflammation can cause floaters and blurred vision
- posterior uveitis – inflammation at the back of the eye can cause problems with vision
The causes of Uveitis remain unclear but often involve a malfunction of the body’s immune system, infections or injury to the eye, including after eye surgery. In half of the cases, a cause or systemic disease is found, but in the other half no cause can be identified..
Eye drops are often used for uveitis affecting the front of the eye, and injections, tablets and capsules are usually used to treat uveitis in the middle and back of the eye.
The initial treatment is steroid medication (corticosteroids). Other treatment options include ant-inflammatory medication, immunosuppressive agents, biologic drugs and even surgery.
Treatment is often done in conjunction with another medical specialist like a rheumatologist.
Uveitis can be:
- acute – when it resolves quickly after treatment
- recurrent – when repeated episodes are separated by gaps of several months
- chronic – when the condition continues long-term or requires long-term medication to control it
Most cases respond quickly to treatment but there is a risk of complications like cataract, glaucoma loss of vision, and permanent visual damage.
Who is affected?
Uveitis usually affects men and women aged 20 to 59, but can also occur in children, especially those with joint disease. It is more likely to occur in people with other inflammatory or immune conditions.
Uveitis is relatively uncommon but it is one fo the leading causes of visual impairment which is why it’s very important to diagnose and treat the condition as early as possible. An eye specialist can diagnose Uveitis through an examination, scans, X-rays and blood tests. Most patients respond quickly to treatment with no further problems but there is always a risk of complications, which can lead to permanent damage and some loss of vision.