Uveitis and Iritis
Uveitis means inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye. The uvea consists of three structures: the iris, the ciliary body, and the choroid. The iris is the colored structure surrounding the pupil, visible in the front of the eye. The ciliary body is a structure containing muscle and is located behind the iris; it is responsible for focusing the lens. The choroid is a layer containing blood vessels that line the back of the eye and is located between the inner visually sensitive layer, called the retina, and the outer white eye wall called the sclera. Inflammation occurring in any of these three structures is termed uveitis.
Inflammation may involve any of these three structures. Depending upon which structures are inflamed, uveitis may be further subcategorized into one of three main diagnoses:
Iritis or anterior uveitis if the inflammation involves the iris
Iridocyclitis or intermediate uveitis for the involvement of ciliary body
Choroiditis or posterior uveitis for the inflammation of the choroid
Uveitis may develop from eye trauma or surgery, in association with diseases which affect other organs in the body, or it can be a condition isolated to the eye itself. Severe and permanent visual loss may result from uveitis. In addition, uveitis sometimes lead to other ocular complications, such as glaucoma, cataracts or retinal damages, which may result in vision loss. Early detection and treatment are necessary to reduce the risk of permanent vision loss.
Depending on which part of the eye is inflamed in uveitis, different combinations of these symptoms may be present.
These symptoms may come on suddenly, and you may not experience any pain. The symptoms described above may not necessarily mean that you have uveitis. However, if you experience one or more of these symptoms, contact our office for a complete exam.
Treatment may include steroid eye drops, injections, or pills, as well as eye drops to dilate the pupil and reduce pain. Severe uveitis may even require treatment with chemotherapeutic agents to suppress the immune system.
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