Uveitis: A Closer Look
What is Uveitis?
The eye is shaped much like a tennis ball, with three different layers of tissue surrounding the central gel-filled cavity.
The innermost layer is the retina, which senses light and helps to send images to your brain. The middle layer between the sclera and retina is called the uvea. The outermost layer is the sclera, the strong white wall of the eye. Uveitis (pronounced you-vee-EYE-tis) is the inflammation of the uvea.
The Importance of the Uvea?
The uvea contains many blood vessels—the veins, arteries and capillaries—that carry blood to and from the eye. Since the uvea nourishes many important parts of the eye (such as the retina), inflammation of the uvea can damage your sight. symptoms of uveitis?
Uveitis Symptoms Include:
- light sensitivity
- blurred vision
- redness of the eye
Uveitis may develop suddenly with redness and pain or with a painless blurring of your vision.
A case of simple "red eye" may, in fact, be a serious problem of uveitis. If your eye becomes red or painful, you should be examined by an ophthalmologist.
What causes Uveitis?
Uveitis has many different causes:
- a virus such as shingles, mumps or herpes simplex
- a fungus, such as histoplasmosis
- a parasite, such as toxoplasmosis
- related disease in other parts of the body, such as arthritis, gastrointestinal disease, or collagen vascular disease, such as lupus
- a result of injury to the eye
In most cases of uveitis, the cause of the disease remains unknown.
A careful eye examination by an ophthalmologist is extremely important when symptoms occur. Inflammation inside the eye can permanently affect sight or even lead to blindness if it is not treated.
Your ophthalmologist will examine the inside of your eye. He or she may order blood tests, skin tests or x-rays to help make the diagnosis.
Since uveitis can be associated with disease in other parts of the body, your ophthalmologist will want to know about your overall health. He or she may want to consult with your primary care physician or other medical specialists.
Types of Uveitis
There are different types of uveitis, depending on which part of the eye is affected.
When the uvea is inflamed near the front of the eye in the iris, it is called iritis. Iritis has a sudden onset and may last six to eight weeks.
When the uvea is inflamed in the middle of the eye, it is called cyclitus. Cyclitis affects the muscle that focuses the lens. Cyclitis can also develop suddenly and can last for several months.
An inflammation in the back of the eye is called choroiditis. Choroiditis is slower to develop and may last longer.
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