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What is Uveitis?

Uveitis is a common term describing a set of inflammatory diseases that produces swelling and also destroys eye tissues. It is third leading cause of blindness. Uveitis actually refers to any inflammation caused in uveal tract which is central layer of eye. This disease may decrease vision or even cause severe loss of vision. It can also affect the lens, retina, optic nerve, and vitreous, thereby leading to reduced vision or blindness.

Uveitis might be caused by problems or diseases occurring in the eye or it can be part of a provocative disease affecting different parts of body. It can happen at all ages and primarily affects people between 20 – 60 years of age. Uveitis can last for a short (acute) or a long (chronic) time.

What are different categories which eye specialists often refer to in Uveitis? Eye care professionals describe the disease more specifically and categorize it as:

.  Anterior Uveitis.

.  Intermediate Uveitis.

.  Posterior Uveitis.

.  Panuveitis Uveitis.

What are the different risk factors of Uveitis?

Several autoimmune diseases and other traumatic injuries can be a main reason for Uveitis. Diseases like AIDS, CMV retinitis, herpes zoster infection, Psoriasis could also result in Uveitis. This is not the end but also Kawasaki disease, reactive arthritis, tuberculosis and ulcerative colitis could later result into severe loss of vision. 

How is your eye affected in Uveitis?

There are a number of ways by which inflammation may occur in eyes and they may be adversely affected. Located between the sclera, eye's white outer coat, and inner layer of the eye, called the retina, is the uvea, which consists of iris, ciliary body, and choroid. Uveitis mainly inflames the iris (Iritis). Since iris opens and closes the pupil any inflammation can cause pain and sensitivity to light. Eyes often get red, vision may become blurred and patient may see spots floating in the eye. If left untreated, it can worsen leading to more severe eye diseases, like glaucoma, cataract and patient may even lose vision.

What are the causes of Uveitis?

There are numerous causes of Uveitis which includes:

·         Autoimmune diseases

·         Rheumatoid arthritis

·         Ankylosing spondylitis

·         Infections and traumatic injuries like syphilis

·         Systemic Lupus erythematosus

·         Behcet’s disease

What are the different types of Uveitis?

There are many types of Uveitis:

Anterior Uveitis is the word for inflammation which affects the eye's front (anterior) part of the uveal tract. This can include the iris (Iritis) or iris and the ciliary body (iridocyclitis). It is the most common kind of Uveitis.

Intermediate Uveitis refers to inflammation which affects middle portion of veal tract or eye, mainly the vitreous humor. It can also affect the underlying retina.

Posterior Uveitis is the term for inflammation which affects the back (posterior) part of the eye. It can influence the choroid, the head of the optic nerve, and the retina (or any combination of these structures). It includes chorioretinitis, retinitis and neuroretinitis.

Acute: the Uveitis is of sudden onset and tends not to last very long (less than three months but usually around six weeks).

Chronic: The Uveitis lasts for more than three months and also comes back (relapses) within three months of stopping treatment.

What are major symptoms Of Uveitis?

There are several symptoms of Uveitis which could be observed to determine its presence. Various symptoms of Uveitis include pain in eyes, inflammation and sensitivity towards light, blurred vision, dark and floating spots in vision. It is best suggested to visit your ophthalmologist for consultation on noticing these symptoms so as to counter its effects as soon as possible with appropriate treatment.

How is Uveitis diagnosed?

Before confirming that a patient is suffering from Uveitis, doctors usually prefer to examine his medical history in detail. Later, the eye is properly examined using some instruments and then few laboratory tests are performed. These diagnostic tests include blood tests, skin tests, X-rays and CT scans. Sometimes doctors can diagnose this problem using specimen taken from patient’s eye also. Various other medical practitioners are also concerned in case the patient has some other disease.

What is the treatment for Uveitis?

Uveitis is mainly related to inflammation of eyes, and therefore, the prime focus of doctors is to control that inflammation. Treatment of uveitis includes:

·         Anti-inflammatory medication: To control inflammation occurring in patient’s eye, doctors prescribe anti-inflammatory medication. This comprises of corticosteroids as well as eye-drops. Some medications can be given through injection or in the form of oral pills. In case of posterior Uveitis, implantation is done in patient’s eye to overcome this problem as well as some steroids are given. This treatment continues for almost 2 and half years.

·         Antibiotics or antiviral medication: Several antibiotics and antiviral medicines are given to patients along with corticosteroids to avoid infection which causes Uveitis.

·         Cytotoxic drugs or Immunosuppressive medication: Various Cytotoxic agents are used by ophthalmologists to control Uveitis in some cases where it becomes really difficult to treat patient’s eye with corticosteroids. Further, this is also used when Uveitis starts affecting patient’s vision quality.

·         Surgical method:  Vitrectomy is surgical approach used to remove jelly-like material of the vitreous membrane of eyes. This removed specimen can be utilized while diagnosis as well as treatment of this disease. Laser treatment is also recommended by surgeons for any further development of Uveitis in the patient.

A prolonged usage of corticosteroids should also be avoided because it can even lead to several other side-effects which couldn’t be treated easily.

 Main portion of your eye i.e. uvea affected with Uveitis determines the healing process and recovery of Uveitis. The back portion of uvea takes more time to heal in comparison to front portion of eye.

What all prognosis measures are used for Uveitis?

After complete treatment of Uveitis, most anterior Uveitis attacks are gone and that too in few days or weeks. Still a proper consultation and routine checkup is important for patient to avoid relapses which are very common after a proper treatment of it. Inflammation has to be taken care of later also, since it could result in complete loss of vision even after treatment.

What are the complications associated with Uveitis?

Uveitis is a totally inflammation related disease which has severe complications with it. This disease could result into permanent or irreparable loss of sight, therefore it is suggested that a best possible treatment should be done for it.  After that also, if in case the inflammation remains unchecked, then it could cause sudden or chronic rise in eyes pressure which could result in permanent nerve damage. It could also lead to damage of delicate retina cells and cornea cells of eyes. Fluid discharge gets accumulated in eyes thereby blurring one’s vision. Then medication for it has its own side-effects which cannot be ignored at all.

Is it possible to prevent Uveitis?

There is no such prevention measure which can be used for it because there are some cases which are idiopathic and do not have known cause. However there are some factors which can be considered for reducing the chances of having Uveitis.  Those precautionary measures include-

·         Eye protection during daily activities like garden edging, drilling

·         Being extra cautious while playing with firecrackers

·         Taking proper vaccinations timely

·         Following good hygiene

·         Undergoing regular health checkups