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What is uveitis?

Uveitis is a term used to describe a variety of conditions of the eye that cause inflammation and swelling of the uvea, or the middle layer of your eye. These conditions often result in deterioration of the eye tissues, decreased quality of vision and, in some cases, blindness.

Symptoms

Symptoms of uveitis include the following in one or both eyes:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Blurry or impaired vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Seeing tiny dots, called “floaters”

Causes

Since uveitis covers a variety of conditions, it has a number of potential causes, all of which lead to an inflammatory response in the eye. This inflammation can be caused by:

  • Debris in the eye
  • Infection
  • Cancer that affects the eye, such as lymphoma
  • An autoimmune disorder, such as sarcoidosis
  • An inflammatory disorder, such as Chrohn’s disease

Risk factors contributing to the possibility of uveitis include smoking and certain gene combinations. People with certain diseases, such as acquired autoimmune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), multiple sclerosis, psoriasis and ucerative colitis are also at higher risk. 

How is it diagnosed?

To diagnose uveitis, your doctor will conduct an eye exam and review your medical history for any conditions that may be contributing to it. They may also order tests such as blood tests, analysis of eye fluid, an angiography to evaluate retinal blood flow, or photography to measure renal tissue thickness and search for fluid in or under the retina. 

Types of uveitis

Depending on where the swelling occurs, there are several types of uveitis:

  • Anterior uveitis, which affects the front part of the eye
  • Intermediate uveitis, which affects the ciliary body, the part of your eye that keeps your lens focused and healthy
  • Posterior uveitis, which affects the back of the eye
  • Pan-uveitis, which affects the entire uvea

Types of treatment

Treatment for uveitis may depend on what caused it. Often, anti-inflammatory eye drops are used to bring down the swelling and reduce symptoms. Other medications may be necessary if the condition is caused by an infection. 

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