Uvea Clinic

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Do you Know?

Having inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis doesn’t just affect your joints. Because these diseases impact the immune system, they can cause symptoms all over your body — including your eyes. Infectious diseases like Tuberculosis can also cause serious infections in the eyes.

What Is Uveitis?

Uveitis means inflammation (the phrase “itis” denotes inflammation) that primarily affects the uvea, the middle layer of the eye.  Uveitis (pronounced you-vee-EYE-tis) produces swelling in the eye and can destroy eye tissue over time if left untreated.

The uvea contains many of the eye’s blood vessels, which is a way that inflammatory cells from the immune system enter the eye and start causing damage. The uvea is located between the inner layer of the eye (the retina) and the outer white layer of the eye (the sclera). The uvea contains the following parts of the eye:

  • Iris: the colored part of the eye
  • Ciliary body: between the iris and the choroid; helps the eye focus and provides nutrients to the lens
  • Choroid: contains a network of blood vessels that provides nutrients to the retina

There are three basic types of uveitis and they’re based on where in the uvea inflammation occurs:.

  • Anterior uveitis occurs in the front of the uvea, or the iris. It tends to start suddenly. Some types of anterior uveitis are ongoing; others can come and go.
  • Intermediate uveitis occurs in the middle of the uvea, or the ciliary body. Symptoms can last for weeks to years. This type of uveitis tends to recur cyclically.
  • Posterior uveitis occurs in the back of the uvea, or the choroid. Symptoms can develop over time and last for years.

Some people can experience uveitis in more than one part of their eye.

What Causes Uveitis?

  • An autoimmune disease like arthritis or ulcerative colitis
  • Infection in the eye or elsewhere in the body
  • Bruises or toxins in the eye

The specialists at the Uveitis department treat their patients in close coordination with other specialists in various branches of medicine such as rheumatologists, chest physicians, infectious disease specialists, internists etc.

Who Gets Uveitis?

Uveitis primarily affects people between 20 and 60, but it can occur at any age..

What Are Common Symptoms of Uveitis?

The main symptoms of uveitis are:

  • Redness in the eye
  • Pain in the eye
  • Decreased vision, blurry vision, or floaters
  • Light sensitivity

How Is Uveitis Treated?

Treatment of uveitis is critical to prevent long-term damage.

Persistent inflammation may lead to numerous problems. The patient can get glaucoma from the inflammation and have permanent loss of vision from that. One can also get a type of scarring where the iris, the colored portion of the eye, sticks to the lens of the eye, and that can also lead to decreased vision and further problems.

Typically, doctors will start with steroid eye drops; they may be prescribed for two to three weeks and then tapered off as symptoms start to improve. However, if the uveitis symptoms return as the drops are tapered, then you have to start the medication again.

For more serious cases of uveitis or those that aren’t responding well to the eye drops, doctors may recommend steroid injections into the eye or oral steroid pills.

You may also be prescribed eye drops to dilate your pupil and relieve the pain that’s accompanying the uveitis.

Treatment for uveitis also includes considering the underlying cause. If you have an autoimmune disease, making sure that it’s well controlled with disease-modifying drugs will also help treat your uveitis. Antibiotics or antiviral medications will likely be prescribed to treat an infection that’s causing uveitis.

It’s very important to follow your doctor’s instructions for treating your uveitis to avoid complications.