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Uveitis

Contents
1. What is uveitis?
2. What are the symptoms of uveitis?
3. What causes uveitis?
4. How is uveitis diagnosed?
5. What are the different types of uveitis?
6. How is uveitis treated?
7. What are the complications of uveitis?
8. What should I do? How do I know if I have uveitis?

What is uveitis?

Uveitis refers to inflammation of the middle layer of the eye (the uvea), which lies between the outer coat (the sclera) and the innermost light sensitive layer (the retina).
What is the importance of the uvea?
The uvea contains many blood vessels (the veins, arteries, and capillaries) that carry blood to and from the eye. Since the uvea nourishes many important parts of the eye (such as the retina), inflammation of the uvea can affect your vision.

What are the symptoms of uveitis?

Symptoms of uveitis include:

  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain
  • Floaters
  • Redness of the eye

A “red eye” with pain and blurring of vision may in fact be a serious problem of uveitis, and this needs to be treated by an eye doctor.

What causes uveitis?

Uveitis has many different causes:

  • It may be related to immune-mediated disease in other parts of the body including arthritis, gastrointestinal disease or collagen vascular disease such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Infections from viruses like shingles and chicken pox (varicella zoster virus), herpes simplex
  • Infections from fungus, bacteria or parasites
  • A result of injury to the eye

In most cases of uveitis, the cause of the disease remains unknown.

How is uveitis diagnosed?

A careful eye examination by an ophthalmologist is extremely important when symptoms occur. Inflammation inside the eye can permanently affect vision or even lead to blindness if it is not treated.
Your ophthalmologist will examine the inside of your eye. He or she may order blood tests, skin tests, or x-rays to help make the diagnosis.
Since uveitis can be associated with disease in other parts of the body, your ophthalmologist will want to know about your overall health. He or she may want to consult with your primary care physician or other medical specialists.

What are the different types of uveitis?

There are different types of uveitis, depending on which part of the eye is affected.
When the uvea is inflamed near the front of the eye, it is called anterior uveitis. When the iris is affected, it is called iritis. Iritis has a sudden onset and may last six to eight weeks.
If the uvea is inflamed in the middle of the eye, it is called cyclitis. Cyclitis affects the muscle that focuses the lens. Cyclitis can also develop suddenly and can last for several months.
An inflammation in the back of the eye is called posterior uveitis. Retinitis and / or choroiditis can develop. Treatment is usually prolonged and difficult.

How is uveitis treated?

Uveitis is often a serious eye condition that may scar the eye. It needs to be treated as soon as possible.
Eyedrops, especially corticosteroids and pupil dilators, can reduce inflammation and pain. For more severe inflammation, oral medication or injections may be necessary.

What are the complications of uveitis?

Uveitis can be associated with these complications:

  • Glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye);
  • Cataract (clouding of the eye’s natural lens);
  • Neovascularization (growth of new, abnormal blood vessels);
  • Damage to the retina, including retinal detachment.

These complication also may need treatment with eyedrops, conventional surgery, or laser surgery.

What should I do? How do I know if I have uveitis?

If you have a “red eye” that does not clear up quickly, especially if it is associated with pain and blurring of vision, uveitis may be possible. Do consult an eye doctor as soon as you can.

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Eye Surgeons @ Novena, Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road #09-28 Singapore 329563
Contact: +65 66940400,  eyesurgeonsnovena@gmail.com