Did you know?
Uveitis will usually get better with treatment, like eye drops, but some cases can lead to further eye problems, such as glaucoma or cataracts. Early treatment is the best chance of successful treatment, so you should see your GP or optician if you think you have any symptoms of uveitis.
Symptoms of uveitis
Uveitis can affect one or both eyes, with symptoms either coming on suddenly or developing gradually over time.
If you experience any of these symptoms, or if you ever have any concerns about your eyes, you should get them checked by your optometrist.
Types of uveitis
The uvea is the middle layer of your eye and is made up of three parts (iris, ciliary body, choroid) found on the front and inside of the eye. Uveitis differs depending on the area of the uvea that is affected, and how long it lasts for.
Types affecting a particular area of the eye include:
- Anterior uveitis (also known as iritis) – this is the most common type and affects the front of the eye
- Intermediate uveitis – this affects the middle of the eye
- Posterior uveitis – this affects the area at the back of the eye
- Panuveitis – this affects both the front and back of the eye
Types of uveitis depending on its duration include:
- Acute uveitis – this develops quickly and typically improves within three months
- Recurrent uveitis – happens when the inflammation comes back between gaps of several months
- Chronic uveitis – this type happens when the inflammation lasts longer and comes back around three months after stopping treatment
Causes of uveitis
Uveitis is strongly linked to problems with the body’s immune system. Certain autoimmune disorders can cause uveitis by mistakenly attacking the healthy tissue within the eye. These can include disorders like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and sarcoidosis.
Sometimes uveitis can be causes by injury or trauma to the eye, as well as certain infections.
In some cases, the cause is not known.
Treatments of uveitis
Uveitis is typically managed by an eye specialist who will be able to determine the best treatment plan for you. Most cases of uveitis are treated with a course of steroid eye drops over a few weeks that will help to reduce the inflammation.
When to get medical advice around uveitis
Some symptoms can be connected to other more common eye conditions. However, if you’re experiencing persistent eye pain or an unusual change in vision, you should contact your optometrist as soon as possible. Your optometrist may use an OCT scan alongside a comprehensive eye examination to assess your symptoms and detect any signs of uveitis, especially at the back of the eye. From this enhanced eye examination, they then may refer you to an eye specialist who will examine your eye in greater detail.
Uveitis is a rare condition, but its symptoms are often connected to other more common eye conditions. So it’s important to get it checked in order to determine the underlying causes.
Only in rare and extreme circumstances can uveitis lead to blindness, when the inflammation leads to further complications. With prompt treatment, this risk can be avoided. Remember, if you experience pain in the eye or vision loss you should get it checked as soon as possible by your optometrist or eye casualty department.
Uveitis itself is not an infection so it is not contagious.
Autoimmune disorders are some of the more common causes of uveitis, including conditions like sarcoidosis, rheumatoid, and lupus. Uveitis can also be caused by trauma or injury to the eye as well as certain infections.