Uveitis refers to inflammation of the uvea, the part that is located at the centre of the eye and is composed of the iris, the choroid and the ciliary body. It is very often characterised by redness in the eye and may affect one eye or both eyes.
Uveitis can have several different causes. The most frequent causes are auto-immune diseases (arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, etc.) or chronic infections (tuberculosis, chicken pox, etc.). However, in most cases, the cause of uveitis is not known.
Without medical care, uveitis may have serious consequences for vision and may even cause permanent vision loss. It is therefore extremely important for a diagnosis to be made quickly and to treat uveitis as early as possible.
Types of uveitis
- Iritis, or anterior uveitis: inflammation of the iris. This is the most common type of uveitis.
- Cyclitis: inflammation of the ciliary body.
- Iridocyclitis: inflammation of the iris and the ciliary body.
- Choroiditis, or posterior uveitis: inflammation of the choroid, located at the back of the eye.
- Panuveitis: inflammation of the entire uvea (iris, choroid and ciliary body).
Symptoms vary depending on the location and the source. They may affect one eye or both eyes:
- Redness of the eye
- Discomfort caused by light
- Diminished vision
- Blurred and/or spotty vision
- Sensitivity to light
The first step involves accurately diagnosing the original cause of the inflammation, an essential step that determines the most appropriate therapy. If the cause of the uveitis is known, it is important to treat it in order to reduce the inflammation. It usually is treated with anti-inflammatory therapy. For chronic forms, the ophthalmologist may perform intraocular injections, i.e. the injection of anti-inflammatory drugs directly into the eye.
If an infection is the source of the uveitis, the anti-inflammatory drugs may be accompanied by antibiotics or antiviral medication.
In some cases, the ophthalmologist may resort to surgery. The surgical procedure involves removing the vitreous humour of the eye, the transparent, gelatinous substance that fills the ocular cavity. The vitreous humour is then analysed to determine the source of the uveitis (virus, bacteria, etc.).