What is Uveitis?
Posted by: Mitchell Refractive Surgery & Eye Center
Uveitis is an inflammatory condition within the eye. When a person contracts uveitis, inflammation of the uvea becomes so severe that it interferes with the function of blood vessels whose job it is to supply oxygen and nutrients to the iris, ciliary body, and choroid.
The uvea is a layer of tissue composed largely of blood vessels that support and nourish many important parts of the eye, including the retina (the light-sensing layer of tissue that lines the inside back part of the eye). The uvea also includes the iris, which is the tissue that gives the eye its distinctive color and regulates the amount of light reaching the retina.
Ergo, when the eye isn’t properly receiving the nutrients and oxygen it needs, the inflammation can cause tissue damage to these major areas of eye structure, thus putting you at risk for vision loss. If you are eye experiencing inflammation and normal treatment methods like taking anti-inflammatories and cold compresses aren’t working, we strongly advise you to see your eye doctor as soon as possible to discover if uveitis is the deeper cause!
Contracting uveitis does not happen easily. Here are a few ways that one may develop uveitis:
- Eye Injury – The most common way to acquire uveitis is through an injury to the eye. If you are involved in an activity or a sport that risks the safety of your eyes, we suggest taking precautions by putting on protective eyewear. This can range from wearing goggles at the swimming pool, to sports glasses while playing basketball, to not forgetting to place your safety goggles on when handling active chemicals or simply doing home renovations that involve cutting wood or metal. Such glasses may look goofy, but they’re worth it if it means protecting the integrity of your eyesight.
- Bacterial or Viral Infection – Infections often cause inflammation in different parts of your body, namely the organ that the bacteria or virus is targeting. Some infections that have been known to cause uveitis are herpes, chicken pox, and shingles.
- Fungus or Parasites – Although not common ailments, some fungus or parasites have been documented as causes of uveitis. For example, the fungus Histoplasma causes histoplasmosis after a person has breathed in their spores from bat or bird droppings. While histoplasmosis normally affects the lungs, it can spread to the eyes and cause damage. Additionally, the parasitic condition toxoplasmosis comes from the parasite Toxoplasma. This parasite can be found in contaminated food or cat feces. A person may not immediately show the symptoms of having toxoplasmosis, so be on the lookout for inflammation of your eyes if you’ve handled contaminated food or cat feces and visit your eye doctor immediately if inflammation occurs!
- Cancer – Lymphoma or Leukemia have been recognized as cancer types that may lead to uveitis. These blood cancers have been known to cause an increased number of abnormal cancer cells to travel through the blood stream and be deposited into a person’s eye. As the deposit of cancer cells accumulates, they irritate the uvea, which causes inflammation resulting in uveitis.
Symptoms of Uveitis
If you feel that you may be suffering from uveitis, be on the lookout for the following symptoms and, should you be experiencing any of these, seek eye treatment with your trusted ophthalmologist:
- Blurred vision
- Eye pain
- Light sensitivity
- Redness of the eye
- Floaters or spots in your vision
- Changed color of iris
Testing and Diagnosing Uveitis
If you suspect that you are suffering from uveitis, the first thing you have to do is visit your Boca Raton eye doctor. He will carefully take down your medical history, your recent activity (for instance, whether you’ve been in an accident that involved trauma to the eye), and will administer an eye exam. Since uveitis is not always caused by a physical accident and may be the symptom of another underlying disease or infection, you may need to supply your eye doctor with blood samples and elect to take an x-ray exam. Following these tests, you will consult your eye doctor on what the diagnosis is and what treatment should follow.
How Eye Doctors Treat Uveitis
As previously stated, having uveitis may result in permanent damage to your eyes, such as loss of vision. That being said, once you’ve been diagnosed with uveitis, treatment will begin immediately. Corticosteroids are used to reduce the swelling of the eye and may be delivered via eye drops or injections. In serious cases, oral or intravenous medications will need to be administered in order to quickly and drastically reduce inflammation.
Schedule an Appointment at Our Boca Raton Location
Whether you’re in need of a routine check-up or are suffering from an eye injury that’s causing you stress, we invite you to schedule a consultation or an appointment with our Boca Raton office. Contact us today!