What is uveitis & why should we care?30 Aug 2021
Most of us haven’t heard about ‘uveitis’. But it’s time you do, because your eyesight depends on it.
Uveitis is the medical term used to describe a range of inflammatory diseases that affect the parts of the eye that make up the uvea—the middle layer of the eye that includes the iris. The uvea plays an important role in vision as it helps your eyes adjust to different light intensities and distances.
When uvea gets inflamed, tissues in the area get destroyed, which can lead to either reduced vision or severe loss. Additionally, the disease is not limited to the uvea alone and can also affect other parts of the eye like the retina and optic nerve. Pay attention to the condition of your eyes as symptoms of uveitis appear suddenly and progress swiftly. It can affect one or both eyes and generally affects people in the 20-50 age group (1)
Symptoms of uveitis
Blurry vision, pain, redness and sensitivity to light are the most common symptoms of this disease. You may also experience floaters or dark spots in your vision. The severity of symptoms varies from person to person depending on the extent of the inflammation (2)
If this condition is not treated in time, it can lead to complications like clouding of the cornea, elevated eye pressure (IOP), glaucoma, cataracts, and even retinal detachment, all of which can eventually lead to blindness. It’s is very important to seek timely treatment if you experience uveitis symptoms.
Causes of uveitis
The primary cause of uveitis is an inflammatory response inside the eye. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to external threats like germs and toxins and internal ones like damaged tissues. Let’s look at a deeper look at the conditions that trigger inflammatory responses in the eye:
- Autoimmunity: When your body comes across foreign invaders like germs, it creates and sends out fighter cells to attack them. However, sometimes the immune system makes mistakes and targets parts of your own body as foreign substances. This may happen in the case of uveitis where the immune system attacks the uvea and its surrounding parts. (3)
- Tumours: Genetic changes or other triggers can cause cells to grow uncontrollably, forming a mass or tumour. Tumours can be cancerous or non-cancerous, and certain tumours in the eye are known to cause uveitis. (4)
- Bruises to the eye: Eye injuries or even eye surgery can lead to uveitis.
- Toxins: When toxins like pesticides or acids enter the eye, they can cause the uvea to get inflamed, causing uveitis. Regular eye infections can also trigger this condition.
- Other diseases: Bone conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, skin diseases like psoriasis, inflammatory disorders like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, AIDS or syphilis have also been known to cause uveitis.
Types of uveitis
The classification of this eye condition is based on location of the inflammation and can be categorised as the following:
- Anterior uveitis occurs in the front region of the eye. It is one of the most common forms of uveitis and generally effects young and middle-aged people. Redness and pain are common symptoms.
- Intermediate uveitis occurs when the middle portion of the eye or the vitreous gets inflamed. Symptoms include floaters and blurred vision.
- Posterior uveitis – occurs when the retina and/or choroid get inflamed. The retina helps you see by transferring neural signals to the brain. The choroid is a layer of tissue that carries oxygen and nutrients to the eye. Inflammation in this region can cause vision problems.
- Pan uveitis is the term used when the front, middle and back parts of the eye all get inflamed.
The treatment for uveitis will seek to remove the inflammation, reduce pain, stop tissue damage, and try and restore any vision that may be lost.
These treatments can include antibiotics, antiviral medications or even surgery.
Post-treatment recovery and preventions
Post-treatment recovery is essential to curing this eye condition. Take your medicines as prescribed, keep an eye out for further symptoms, and schedule follow-up visits with your doctor.
You can also strengthen your eyes and vision by consuming safe supplements. Setu Eye Max contains essential eye vitamins like Lutein and Zeaxanthin. These supplements protect your eyes from blue light damage, moisturise your eyes and improves eye sight and sleep quality.
1) How is uveitis diagnosed?
Diagnosis includes a thorough examination of a patient’s medical history and a detailed examination of the eye. Procedures like a visual acuity test or a slit lamp exam may also be conducted.
2) How do I prepare for an eye appointment?
Avoid wearing contact lenses in the days leading up to your appointment. Make a list of all the symptoms and illnesses you’ve experienced till date and share them with your doctor. You should also mention any medications you are currently taking. Avoid driving to your appointment and, if possible, ask a friend or relative to accompany you.
3) How often should a healthy person have eye exams?
Adults under 40 years of age with normal vision should have a complete eye exam every five years. If you wear contact lenses or glasses, you should see an eye specialist at least once every year.
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