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Uveitis: All you need to know about this rare eye disease

Uveitis: All you need to know about this rare eye disease

While I talk about common eye diseases and conditions all the time, it’s time to throw some light on the not-so-known ones.

Let’s start with Uveitis. Affecting only 2 to 5 people out of 10,000 people in the UK every year, I guess it fills the criteria of being a ‘rare’ disease.

Although it’s rare, it most commonly targets the population between 20 years to 60 years. Did you know that uveitis is the fourth most common cause of vision loss among the working-age population all over the world?

Thus, it not only impacts the social aspect of a person’s life but also the economy as a whole. So, it’s kind of an important one too.

What is Uveitis?

Uveitis refers to the inflammation of the eye that can occur in one or both eyes. It’s a type of inflammatory disease that leads to the swelling of the middle layer of the eye known as the uvea.

The uvea consists of three major parts:

  • Iris: The coloured part of the eye.
  • The Ciliary Body: It is a ring-shaped muscle that helps your eyes focus by changing the size of the pupil and the shape of the crystalline lens.
  • Choroid: It supplies oxygen and nutrients to the outer retina.

This problem could be a result of an eye infection or injury. However, most of the time, the cause cannot be detected. If you work in a manufacturing plant, exposure to certain toxins and chemicals may also lead to uveitis.

The term Uveitis could be used when referring to inflammation in any part of the eye including the iris and ciliary.

Uveitis doesn’t normally turn serious and could be treated with proper medical attention. But, if you address the problem too late, you might have to deal with vision loss.

Types of Uveitis

Based on where the inflammation has occurred, uveitis can be categorised into four main types.

1. Anterior Uveitis: Used to describe inflammation of the iris. It is the most common yet the least serious type and may even occur in healthy individuals.

2. Intermediate Uveitis: When the inflammation happens specifically in the middle of the eye, it is known as iridocyclitis. It is mainly focused on the anterior vitreous, ciliary body and peripheral retina.

3. Posterior Uveitis: Also known as choroiditis, posterior uveitis is the inflammation of the back part of the uvea known as choroid. It may affect the optic nerve and/or the retina. Thus, posterior uveitis could lead to vision loss in some cases.

4. Panuveitis: When the inflammation occurs in every layer of the uvea, it is termed pan-uveitis. Thus, a person with this eye disease will feel mixed symptoms from all the other types of uveitis.

If the inflammation has occurred in the back of the eye, it will heal more slowly. However, if it has affected the front of the eye, you won’t have to deal with this problem for long.

Uveitis Symptoms

Warning signs of uveitis could show up and become worse all of a sudden. The common symptoms of this disease are:

  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye pain
  • Eye redness
  • Blurred vision
  • Vision decline
  • Seeing floaters in your field of vision

If you experience any of these uveitis symptoms, schedule an exam with an eye care professional. The earlier you treat the problem, the better chance you’ll have to preserve your vision.

You can even book a free eye test with the NHS if you experience anything unusual in your eye or vision. In case you are not eligible to get it from the NHS, we offer a free eye test in the UK to every resident. So, you can have one from our skilled optical staff both in our stores or your home.

What Could Possibly Cause Uveitis?

In most cases, you won’t find an apparent underlying cause for this eye disease. It is associated with a number of diseases and syndromes or might just be the result of your body’s natural response to infections.

Uveitis can happen in people with autoimmune disorders such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Sarcoidosis

Certain infections also put you at a higher risk of developing uveitis. Here they are:

  • Histoplasmosis
  • AIDS
  • Syphilis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Toxoplasmosis

Eye injury, trauma or exposure to harmful toxins can cause inflammation and give rise to this problem. Some researchers also suggest that inking your body might have something to do with this eye disease. They believe that tattooing your skin can trigger an immune response that can affect your skin or eyes.

Complications of Uveitis

When left untreated, uveitis may even lead to:

  • Retinal scarring
  • Retinal swelling
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Retinal detachment
  • Permanent vision loss

People experiencing changes in their genes are also more likely to develop this problem. Moreover, cigarette smoking makes it even harder to control uveitis.

Your uveitis could also turn severe if you use contact lenses or wear eye makeup before your eyes have healed. Using contacts will make matters worse if your uveitis is a result of an underlying infection.

So, switch to prescription glasses and give your eyes some relief. If you don’t have them, you can buy prescription glasses online from us at discounted prices. We have a wide range of frame styles so you don’t have to sacrifice style when wearing specs.

Uveitis Treatments

It’s important to seek the right treatment for uveitis as soon as you can. If you overlook this problem, it can lead to severe eye problems including blindness.

The treatment would aim to control inflammation, ease eye pain, prevent complications and restore lost visual acuity.

The kind of treatment your doctor would prescribe depends on the type of uveitis you have, where it has occurred and whether it has affected both eyes.

If you have anterior uveitis, your doctor might recommend dark or tinted glasses to combat light sensitivity and eye pain.

Corticosteroids is a type of steroid that blocks the production of a chemical that causes inflammation. They are used to treat posterior uveitis. You will either get it in the form of eye drops, shots or pills. If these medicines don’t work, your doctor will move you to another type of uveitis treatment method.

Taking steroid pills will have some side effects on your body which includes sleeplessness, weight gain, anxiety and mood swings.

However, if your uveitis has been caused due to an underlying infection, you will need antibiotics or other medications to treat that infection. Once you get rid of the infection, your uveitis will go away as well.

But, if your uveitis is stubborn and keeps coming back even after several treatment procedures, surgeries like vitrectomy or implant surgery might help.

If you have an autoimmune disease, then the ideal type of treatment will include drugs that suppress your immune system.

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