Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea of the eye. The eye is a three-layered, fluid-filled sphere. The outer tough layer is called the sclera; the innermost layer is the light-gathering retina. The middle layer is the uvea. It comprises the iris, the ciliary body and the choroid. Inflammation of any part of the uvea creates this condition.
Types of Uveitis
This can be a difficult condition to understand because the uvea is made up of different parts – if the choroid is affected, the condition and its subsequent treatment is different from when the iris is affected.
Inflammation in the uvea can affect other parts of the eye – such as the retina. Therefore, a range of other difficulties can arise to complicate the situation, and consequently, it presents itself in numerous ways too. The type and degree of sight loss and the treatment may vary considerably from person to person. Correct, early diagnosis of the exact type is essential in order to get appropriate treatment.
What is the most common cause of uveitis
There is a range of different causes:
An infection such as a herpes virus or a fungus.
A parasite, such as toxoplasmosis.
Autoimmune Disease (with or without other bodily signs). This may happen when the immune system recognizes a part of the body as being foreign to it.
Trauma to the eye
The cause may remain unknown.
Another way to understand Uveitis is to describe the part of the eye that is affected:
This affects the front of the eye, usually the iris (Iritis) or the ciliary body (Iridocyclitis). Iritis is most common of all types of Uveitis, and the most easy to treat, but this condition needs regular monitoring in order that complications such as raised eye pressure or cataracts do not occur.
This condition affects an area behind the ciliary body (para plana) and the front edge of the retina. This is the second most common type of Uveitis.
Inflammation affects the part of the uvea at the back of the eye, the choroids. The choroid contains small blood vessels that supply the retina.
The necessary tests are complex, painless and straightforward. The symptoms experienced determine the focus of the testing.
What is the best treatment for uveitis
Treatment aims to relieve pain, prevent sight loss due to the disease and its complications, and to treat the cause of the disease where possible. Corticosteroids are often used, and now, some newer drugs are being used too. Various eye-drops are given, particularly to treat anterior Uveitis.
This varies, but with newer drug treatments, eyesight can be stabilized over time. Uveitis is incurable in that it will never disappear, but it can be controlled. Early treatment is advisable.