Uveitis is basically an inflammation of the
eye. The condition involves all inflammatory
processes of the middle layers of the eye,
also called the uveal tract or uvea. The
uvea includes the iris (colored part of the
eye), choroid (a thin membrane containing
many blood vessels) and ciliary body (the
part of the eye that joins these together).
The uvea is very important because its many
veins and arteries transport blood to the
parts of the eye that are critical for
Causes of Uveitis
Uveitis has many potential causes, including
infection with a virus, fungus, bacteria or
parasite, inflammatory disease affecting
other parts of the body, or injury to the
There are four types of uveitis:
Iritis is the most common form of
uveitis. It affects the iris and is often
associated with autoimmune disorders such as
rheumatoid arthritis. Iritis may develop
suddenly and may last up to eight weeks,
even with treatment.
Cyclitis is an inflammation of the
middle portion of the eye and may affect the
muscle that focuses the lens. This also may
develop suddenly and last several months.
Retinitis affects the back of the eye.
It may be rapidly progressive, making it
difficult to treat. Retinitis may be caused
by viruses such as shingles or herpes and
bacterial infections such as syphilis or
Choroiditis is an inflammation of the
layer beneath the retina. It may also be
caused by an infection such as tuberculosis.
Retinitis and choroiditis can each be caused
by an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid
arthritis or lupus. In a large number of
cases, the cause of uveitis is not known,
but it is often related to stress.
Symptoms of uveitis may include: Eye redness and irritation Blurred vision Eye pain Increased sensitivity to light Floating spots before the eyes
Uveitis may develop rapidly, and it is very
important that you see your ophthalmologist
for a complete eye exam if you develop these
symptoms, especially if a painful, red eye
does not clear up quickly. Left untreated,
uveitis may permanently damage your vision.
Uveitis can permanently damage your eyesight
and even cause blindness. Therefore, if you
have any symptoms of uveitis, is very
important for you to see your
ophthalmologist right away.
Your ophthalmologist will perform a careful
exam of your eyes. He or she may order
laboratory tests including blood work or
Uveitis may have an underlying cause
elsewhere in your body, and your
ophthalmologist may want to talk with your
primary care doctor or a specialist to
evaluate your overall health.
Because uveitis is serious, treatment needs
to begin right away. For uveitis not caused
by an infection, your ophthalmologist may
prescribe eye drops containing steroids to
reduce swelling and drugs to relieve pain.
Antibiotics are used in patients with
infectious uveitis. Dark glasses will help
with light sensitivity.
Complications of uveitis may include
glaucoma, cataracts, abnormal growth of
blood vessels in the eyes that interfere
with vision, fluid within the retina, and
vision loss. Early diagnosis and treatment
by your ophthalmologist is critical.
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