Uveitis is inflammation that can occur anywhere inside the eye. It commonly causes blurry vision, redness, tearing and pain. As arthritis is inflammation of a joint, uveitis as a type of inflammation of the eye. You could think of it as arthritis of the eye.
There are many causes of uveitis, but most are unknown.
Synonyms include iritis, anterior uveitis, intermediate uveitis, panuveitis and endopthalmitis. Most classifications are based upon the portion of the uveal tract, certain embryologically related structures of the eye, that is involved: the iris, the ciliary body and the choroid.
Symptoms of Uveitis
The most common symptoms of uveitis, aka iritis are:
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurry vision
Causes of Inflammation
This is very difficult to define. As is true for many inflammatory disorders, uveitis can be linked solely to the eye or related to systemic disease. Examples include: ankylosing spondylitis, sarcoidosis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Treatment of the underlying systemic disease is usually NOT effective, but the treatments are usually about the same when the eye is involved.
Autoimmune diseases, infections or tumors or injury can lead to inflammation, but in well over half the cases, there is not specific cause. In other words, in a majority of cases…inflammation just happens.
Treatment of Uveitis
Inflammation usually is treated with steroids. Topical eye drops are the most common starting point for treatment. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and drops (NSAIDS) are also an option. The goal is to use steroids or NSAIDS to reduce the inflammation.
If topical eyedrops are ineffective, periocular steroid injections or intraocular eye injections may be warranted. Uncommonly, oral medications and systemic immunosupressive drugs may be necessary.
Most types of uveitis are self limited and respond well to topical eye drops. More complicated cases of intraocular inflammation may be handled by a retina specialist or a uveitis specialist.