Uveitis occurs when the middle layer of the eyeball gets inflamed (red and swollen). This layer, called the uvea, has many blood vessels that nourish the eye. Uveitis can damage vital eye tissue, leading to permanent vision loss.
Since uveitis is often connected with other diseases or conditions, some tests may be needed.
Types of Uveitis
Anterior uveitis: Swelling of the uvea near the front of the eye is called anterior uveitis. It starts suddenly and symptoms can last up to 8 weeks. Some forms of anterior uveitis are ongoing, while others go away but keep coming back.
Intermediate uveitis: Swelling of the uvea in the middle of the eye is called intermediate uveitis. Symptoms can last for a few weeks to many years. This form can go through cycles of getting better, then getting worse.
Posterior uveitis: Swelling of the uvea toward the back of the eye is called posterior uveitis. Symptoms can develop gradually and last for many years. In severe cases, all layers may be involved.
Uveitis Causes & Symptoms
Doctors do not always know what causes uveitis. You are more likely to get uveitis if you have or have had:
- infections such as shingles virus, herpes simplex virus, syphilis, Lyme disease, and parasites such as toxoplasmosis
- a systemic inflammatory disease such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
- an eye injury
Uveitis can develop suddenly. Symptoms can include: having a red eye with or without pain, being very sensitive to bright light, having blurry vision, seeing “floaters” (specks or moving clouds in your vision) all of a sudden. Contact your ophthalmologist right away if you notice any of these symptoms.
Uveitis Diagnosis & Treatment
We will examine the inside of your eye. Since uveitis is often connected with other diseases or conditions, some tests may be needed. They may include a physical exam, blood or skin tests, examination of eye fluids, and imaging tests, such as X-rays. We may ask about other diseases or health problems you have had. Uveitis needs to be treated right away to prevent lasting problems. We often treat uveitis with eyedrop medicine that reduces inflammation (corticosteroids). We may also use an eye drop to widen (dilate) the pupil, which helps reduce pain and swelling. Sometimes medicine may need to be given by injection (shots) or taken by mouth. Often times, we will work with a special kind of doctor called a rheumatologist to help treat you. Smoking (cigarettes, cigars or pipes) also increases your risk of getting uveitis.
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Uveitis occurs when the middle layer of the eyeball gets inflamed (red and swollen). This layer, called the uvea, has many blood vessels that nourish the eye.
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Dr. Malihi is board certified in Ophthalmology and a fellow member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS), Oregon Academy of Ophthalmology (OAO) and the American Academy of Facial Esthetics (AAFE) . He is the founder of NELSI, INC., an eye care center in Portland, Oregon.
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