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.
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. 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.
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.