WHAT IS UVEITIS?
The eye could be compared to a tennis ball, hollow inside with three different layers of tissue around a central cavity. The outermost is the sclera (the white layer of the eye) and the innermost is the retina (tissue responsible for forming images on the back of the eye, such as a camera reel). The middle layer between the sclera and the retina is called the uvea, the Greek word for grape because its constitution resembles the skin of grapes. When the uvea becomes inflamed is called uveitis.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THE UVEA?
The uvea contains many blood vessels that nourish the retina and other eye structures. Inflammation of the uvea can affect the cornea, the retina, the sclera and other vital parts of the eye. Inflammation of this layer can compromise the vision irreversibly, therefore uveitis consider them as a serious illness.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF UVEITIS?
Symptoms of uveitis include increased sensitivity to light (photophobia), blurred vision, eye pain and redness. Uveitis can appear suddenly with redness and pain, or it may be progressive, of course lens to start with little pain or redness and progressive loss of vision.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF UVEITIS?
Yes, when the uvea is inflamed near the anterior part of the eye, the iris, is described as iritis. If the uvea is inflamed in the center of the eye affecting the ciliary body, is called cyclitis. If the inflammation is on the back of the eye affecting the choroid, is called choroiditis.
WHAT CAUSES UVEITIS?
Uveitis has different causes. It may be the result of a virus (mumps or herpes), fungal (histoplasmosis), parasites (toxoplasmosis.) In many cases, the cause remains unknown.
Uveitis can be caused by disease in other parts of the body such as arthritis, or is the result of injury to the eye. The inflammation in the eye can cause severe damage in the contralateral eye (sympathetic uveitis.)
HOW IS DIAGNOSED UVEITIS?
A complete eye examination is extremely important when the above symptoms occur. Inflammation inside the eye can affect irreversibly to ocular tissues and eventually cause blindness.
The ophthalmologist has a number of instruments to examine the inside of the eye and thus establish a diagnosis based. In some circumstances require blood tests, skin tests and radiological examinations. In specific cases, it is necessary to seek a puncture biopsy to look inside the eye or other cells that help in the diagnosis.
As uveitis may be associated with other diseases of the body, an assessment and understanding of the overall health of the patient care is important. This means that the ophthalmologist will have to work together with other specialists.
HOW IS TREATED UVEITIS?
Early treatment is necessary to reduce vision loss. The drops, especially steroids and mydriatics are the drugs of choice for reducing inflammation and pain. For posterior localization processes, oral medication or injections may be necessary. Complications such as glaucoma (increased eye pressure), cataracts (loss of lens transparency), or formation of new blood vessels (neovascularization), may require treatment in the course of the disease.
Uveitis that originates in the anterior half of the eye (iritis and cyclitis), usually have a rapid onset and a duration of between 6-8 weeks. In the early stages can be controlled with the use of appropriate drops, without recourse to more complex treatments. Often, these types of uveitis are not due to a specific cause, but to multiple factors. The uveitis of the posterior pole of the eye (choroiditis), usually has a slow onset, but evolution is usually longer and more difficult to treat.
WHO CAN TREAT UVEITIS?
Only an eye doctor is qualified to treat uveitis an ophthalmologist. Uveitis is a serious disease that can affect irreversibly to the vision, causing blindness. A case of simple "red eye", may in fact be a serious problem of uveitis. A "red eye" that is not resolved quickly, it should be evaluated and treated by an ophthalmologist and should see a specialist even on an emergency.