What is Uveitis?
A sheath consisting of 3 layers surrounds the gel-like substance in the middle of the eye. The outermost part is the white part called the sclera, the inner part is called the retina, which allows us to see, and the middle part called uvea. Infection of the uvea is called uveitis. Uvea contains vessels that feed the eye. The inflammation in this layer affects all of the tissues of the eye. This disease causes serious complications that threaten vision.
Sensitivity to light, pain, redness in the eye, decreased vision are the most important symptoms. In most cases, the cause is undetermined; yet in some cases viruses, fungi, parasites and other disorders found in some parts of the body, such as Arthritis, Behçet’s Syndrome, Infections (bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi), eye trauma, immune system diseases, rheumatic diseases, ulcerative colitis are known to cause uveitis. The cause of uveitis cannot be found in 30-40 percent of patients. So it is necessary to investigate various tests and diseases.
When the symptoms begin, you should see an ophthalmologist. Inflammation can cause permanent loss of vision. In addition to eye examination, it may be necessary to investigate a systemic disease in various situations. In this case, rheumatologists and internal medicine specialists can make a collective diagnosis.
Pupil dilation drugs and cortical steroids are frequently used in the treatment of uveitis. Inflammation deeper in the eye may require the use of systemic drugs. Various complications such as glaucoma, cataract, neovascularization (formation of new vessels) may develop.
Regardless of its severity, uveitis is an urgent disease and it has to be diagnosed immediately. When it is late, the disease progresses and may cause permanent side effects such as deformities of the pupil, cataracts and increased intraocular pressure.
Some diseases can be diagnosed immediately because of their very typical appearance. Even in this case, if the posterior part of the eye is involved, advanced techniques such as angiography, ultrasonography, ERG may be necessary to understand the extent of damage to the vision and to monitor the effectiveness of treatment. When the symptoms begin, you should see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible; joint treatment with internal medicine and rheumatology unit may be required after treatment has started.
When uveitis is localized in the anterior region of the eye, it presents itself as redness in the eye, accompanied by blurred vision or decreased vision, pain around the eye, sensitivity to light and fluctuations during the attacks. If attacks or activation is towards the posterior segment, the symptoms are mostly blurred and decreased vision. If the attack happens in the middle region, the symptom is sudden visual loss. It progresses to permanent visual loss as it causes damage to the tissues. Attacks and damages outside the central region are manifest itself by blurry vision, and although they end with being left sequelae, there is no permanent loss of vision unless the macula is affected.
Uveitis is a disease that is treatable. Even if treatment ends, the patient should be monitored periodically. As the disease may recur, it is imperative that patient attends controls regularly and checked with an M.D. if symptoms related to other organ diseases appear. For example, mouth ulcers, skin spots, etc…
If uveitis is recognized immediately, vision can be preserved or recovered. Early diagnosis, correct treatment, frequent and good follow-up, along with patient physician compliance can possibly save the patients vision.