Uveitis Treatment in Portland, OR
What is Uveitis?
Uveitis is an irritation and swelling of the uvea, which is the highly vascular fibrous tissue that forms the iris, choroid, ciliary body, and pars plana. It can be caused by autoimmune disorders, infections or foreign toxins, but often the cause is unknown. It frequently manifests in young to middle-aged individuals and may only affect one eye.
What causes uveitis?
In about half the cases of uveitis, a specific cause can’t be pinpointed. But in the other half, these are the usual causes:
- Eye injury
- Eye surgery
- Autoimmune disorder, such as ankylosing spondylitis
- Inflammatory disorder, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Infection, such as Lyme disease, herpes zoster, West Nile virus, etc.
- Cancer that affects the eye, such as lymphoma
What Are The Symptoms Of Uveitis?
The symptoms usually develop quite quickly and unexpectedly, but in some individuals they form slowly. Distinguishing symptoms of uveitis may include:
- Irritation and redness of the eye
- Eye pain
- Sensitivity to light
- Dark floaters and blurred vision
This may affect the front of the uvea (iritis), the back of the uvea, the middle (the vitreous) or the entire span of tissue.
Who is at Risk For Developing Uveitis?
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis, AIDS, herpes syphilis and direct eye trauma have a higher risk for developing uveitis. If the disorder is not treated, permanent vision loss may result due to damage to the optic nerve. Additionally, there may be an increased risk of cataracts and glaucoma due to the eye’s weakened condition.
How is uveitis diagnosed?
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of uveitis, such as pain, redness, sensitivity to light, and new floaters, we need to see you at The Eye Clinic. When diagnosing uveitis, Dr. Wilkins and Dr. Donohue will conduct a complete eye exam, plus they’ll go through your health history. This is important to show autoimmune conditions that could be behind your uveitis inflammation.
We may also use additional tests to confirm our diagnosis:
- Blood tests
- Analysis of the fluid from the eye
- Photograph that evaluates the retinal blood flow (angiography)
- Photography to measure the thickness of the retinal tissues and to determine the presence or absence of fluid in or under the retina
There are several treatments for uveitis depending on what part of the eye is affected and how severely. In some cases, the underlying condition (herpes, AIDS, syphilis) may need to be treated to see improvements in the uveitis. Otherwise, the patient will be encouraged to wear dark glasses and take pupil dilating drops to relieve pain and pressure. Serious cases usually require extended use of steroid eye drops as well as oral steroids that suppress the immune system. Click here for additional information on Uveitis
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“My experience at The Eye Clinic is always positive from the time I walk it. Check in is handled quickly; and care is provided on a timely basis. Dr Wilkins is the best! All the staff are cordial and strive to make one comfortable.” – L.S.
“A happy place where people really care about your eyes and eyesight. Nice pleasant environment, friendly staff, Been going there for years (50) and have received the best service possible. – T.B.
Can uveitis recur?
Yes. Again, that shows the importance of continuing eye exams on a yearly basis if you’re over 50. That way if uveitis returns, we can treat it again.
Can you prevent uveitis?
There isn’t any particular method or behavior that can prevent uveitis. Of course, this is completely the case in the roughly 50 percent of people where the cause cannot be pinpointed. Seeking proper treatment for an autoimmune disease or infection is the best method for preventing uveitis. Smoking is thought to play a role, as well.
What’s most important is to keep your regular eye exams with Dr. Wilkins and our team at The Eye Clinic, as early detection and treatment are important to reduce your risk of vision loss.
Can uveitis cause blindness?
Yes. Uveitis causes about 30,000 new cases of blindness in the United States every year. Uveitis may cause blurry and reduced vision. When treated, vision may recover. In some cases, mostly in intermediate uveitis, posterior uveitis, and panuveitis, where inflammation is recurrent and chronic, damage to the eye can occur, particular to the retina and optic nerve. This causes permanent vision loss.
Inflammation caused by uveitis can cause pressure inside the eye to rise. This is glaucoma, and it can damage the optic nerve creating permanent vision loss.
Cystoid macular edema is a complication usually seen with intermediate uveitis, posterior uveitis, and panuveitis. This is swelling of the macular, the most sensitive part of the eye necessary for driving, reading, and detailed up-close work. If swelling doesn’t respond to treatment, the sensitive cells under the fluid can die and cause vision loss.
Another complication of uveitis is damage to the vitreous, the clear gel-like substance that fills the eye. Inflammation from uveitis can allow debris to get into the vitreous. This may be blood and scar tissue and it can cause floaters or flashes of light. It may even block vision. A vitrectomy could then be required to replace the vitreous with a clear fluid.
Uveitis can also increase the risk of a detached retina, which requires immediate surgery to prevent blindness.