What Is Uveitis? How Can It Be Treated?
Uveitis is a set of inflammatory diseases that results in the swelling and damaging of the eye tissue. It can lead to temporary or permanent loss of vision. This disease often affects a part of the eye called the uvea, from which it has derived its name. It can affect people of all ages and can last from a short to long period of time. Ophthalmologists categorize uveitis into four major parts posterior uveitis, anterior uveitis, panuveitis uveitis and intermediate uveitis. This disease can be infectious or noninfectious, depending on the nature of the infection.
What causes uveitis and what are the major risk factors?
This disease is caused by the eye's inflammatory response and is caused by a series of potential factors such as the following:
- Immune system attack from the body
- Eye bruises
- Eye infection or tumor within the eye
- Foreign toxins that penetrate the eye
What are the diseases associated with uveitis?
Uveitis is associated with a range of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Behcet's syndrome, Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada's (VKH) disease, psoriasis, herpes zoster infection, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, toxoplasmosis, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis.
What are the typical symptoms of uveitis?
One or both eyes can be affected by uveitis. Some of the common symptoms include pain in the eye, light sensitivity and blurred and dark spots in vision. Moreover, the symptoms might vary from person to person and greatly depends on the type of inflammation. The symptoms also vary according to the type of uveitis.
What is the detection process?
The process of detection starts with a patient's medical history followed by several medical tests to rule out autoimmune disorders. This is followed by an evaluation of the central nervous system to rule out multiple sclerosis. Some of the other tests conducted by ophthalmologists include measuring the ocular pressure, slit lamp exam, funduscopic exam and visual acuity test.
The primary aim of the treatment is to eradicate inflammation, restore vision, prevent tissue damage and reduce pain. The treatment plan depends on the type of uveitis a patient displays. Doctors often suggest a dose of corticosteroid eye drops to arrest the infection in and around the eye. Other treatment methods include the prescription of immunosuppressive agents.
Furthermore, a doctor may suggest steroidal medication in the form of an eye drop, pill or injection. It can also be surgically infused into the eye. Some other agents used for treatment are azathioprine, methotrexate and mycophenolate. Medications such as these require regular monitoring of the blood to check for any side effects. Doctors also suggest biologics such as infliximab, rituximab, and adalimumab. Most of these drugs have a specific target in the immune system.