Uveitis means "inflammation of the uvea", or the middle layer of the eye. The uvea consists of three structures: the iris, the ciliary body, and the choroid. The iris is the colored structure surrounding the pupil, visible in the front of the eye. The ciliary body is a structure containing muscle and is located behind the iris which focuses the lens. The choroid is a layer containing blood vessels that line the back of the eye and is located between the inner visually sensitive layer, called the retina, and the outer white eye wall, called the sclera. Inflammation occurring in any of these three structures is termed "uveitis".
Inflammation in uveitis may involve any but not necessarily all of these three structures. Depending upon which structures are inflamed, uveitis may be further subcategorized into one of three main diagnoses, these include:
- iritis or anterior uveitis,
- iridocyclitis or intermediate uveitis, and
- choroiditis or posterior uveitis.
Uveitis may develop following eye trauma or surgery, in association with diseases which affect other organs in the body, or may be a condition isolated to the eye itself. Severe and permanent visual loss can result from uveitis. In addition, uveitis can lead to other ocular complications, which may produce vision loss, including glaucoma, cataracts, or retinal damage. Early detection and treatment is necessary to reduce the risk of permanent vision loss.
Depending on which part of the eye is inflammed in uveitis different combinations of these symptoms may be present.
- Light sensitivity
- Blurry vision
These symptoms may come on suddenly, and you may not experience any pain. The symptoms described above may not necessarily mean that you have uveitis. However, if you experience one or more of these symptoms, contact your eye doctor for a complete exam.
Treatment may include steroid eyedrops, injections, or pills, as well as eyedrops to dilate the pupil and reduce pain. More severe cases of uveitis may even require treatment with chemotherapeutic agents to suppress the immune system.