What Is Uveitis?

Uveitis is a very dangerous inflammation of the middle area of the eye.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2014
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Uveitis is a very dangerous inflammation of the middle area of the eye, known as the uvea. If uveitis is left untreated, it can lead to severe visual impairment or blindness, making prompt attention from an ophthalmologist critical, along with adherence to the treatment plan devised by the doctor. There are a number of treatment options which can be used to address and manage this inflammation.

Patients with uveitis usually experience some pain in the affected eye. They may also have itchy, swollen eyes, and experience blurred vision or floaters in their vision which make it hard to see. Tear production can also increase, making the eye moist and weepy. It is also not uncommon for the uvea to turn cloudy or reddish, indicating that the body is fighting an inflammation.

Some common causes of uveitis include systemic infection, autoimmune disorders, trauma to the eye, and exposure to toxins. Sometimes the cause is not clear. The condition often becomes chronic, recurring again and again or occurring on a low-grade level constantly. Over time, the blood supply to the retina can be damaged, and the patient can develop severe vision problems.

The uvea includes the iris, ciliary body, and choroid. Inflammation which involves the iris may be known as anterior uveitis or iriditis. Intermediate uveitis involves the ciliary body, while the posterior form involves the choroid, in an infection also known as choroiditis. In diffuse or panuveitis, the entire uveal tract is involved, rather than a specific area.

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Immediate treatment of uveitis involves the administration of steroids to reduce the inflammation and swelling, which will reduce the risk of damage to the eye. The patient may also be encouraged to use compresses to bring relief to the eye. Additional medications can be administered in the event that the inflammation is caused by an infection or autoimmune disorder, and the eye will continue to be monitored until the inflammation is resolved. Long-term treatment may be necessary in the case of uveitis associated with a chronic incurable condition.

Anyone who experiences vision changes, marked redness or cloudiness in the eye, or pain in the eyes should see a doctor, preferably as soon as possible. Conditions which involve the eye can turn dangerous very quickly if they are not addressed, and in addition to potentially causing vision damage, such conditions can also indicate the presence of a serious underlying medical issue which needs to be addressed.

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