What is Uveitis and how long does it last

Uveitis

Uveitis can lead to permanent vision loss. This serious condition, affecting the eye is pronounced u-vee-I-tis. It must be diagnosed and treated during the early stages to avoid complications and preserve vision.

What is uveitis?

Uveitis is the inflammation of the Uvea, the middle layer of tissue in the eye wall, which is made up of the iris, ciliary, body and choroid.

There are different forms of uveitis, each type is classified according to where in the uvea the inflammation occurs. Different types of uveitis include:

  • Anterior uveitis - an inflammation of the iris
  • Intermediate uveitis - an inflammation of the ciliary body
  • Posterior uveitis - an inflammation of the choroid
  • Diffuse uveitis - an inflammation of all areas of the uvea, also known as pan uveitis

Symptoms of uveitis

Symptoms of uveitis can occur suddenly and develop rapidly or gradually in some cases. Routine eye exams are important as they can detect uveitis in cases where there are no symptoms. the symptoms can affect one or both eyes and include the following:

What does uveitis pain feel like?

Some describe uveitis pain to feel like a dull ache in or around the eye which can worsen when focusing.

Stabbing pain in the eye

Patients with uveitis usually describe a stabbing pain in the eye. Whilst a sharp pain in the eye can stem from many conditions, it is important to get it checked out by a doctor who will use eye chart exams and look at the pressure inside one or both eyes to diagnose uveitis.

How long does uveitis last?

Uveitis can often be a chronic condition. How long uveitis lasts is usually determined by the type of uveitis and which part of the eye is affected. Most types, if treated effectively, can clear up within a few days, however posterior uveitis can take several months or years to clear up.

How long does posterior uveitis last?

Posterior uveitis is usually chronic and can, therefore, last a long time.

What are the main causes of uveitis?

The exact cause of uveitis is often unidentified, however, the many possible causes include:

  • Eye injury
  • Inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals

Can uveitis be caused by stress?

Whilst there is no evidence to suggest that uveitis is caused by stress, many with the condition have reported a flare-up during stressful times in life. This is due to the relationship between stress and the immune system.

Can you go blind from uveitis?

You can go blind from uveitis which is why it is important to diagnose it and start treatment as soon as possible.

Can uveitis be cured?

It is possible to cure uveitis with the right kind of treatment. The treatment will depend on where the inflammation occurs in the eye and the severity of the uveitis.

Permanent cure for uveitis

Whilst there is no permanent cure for uveitis, the treatment strategies available can be very effective in controlling the inflammation.

Foods to avoid with uveitis

It is best to stick to an anti-inflammatory diet and avoid the foods that are saturated in oils and creams or contain a high sugar content.

What is the best treatment for uveitis?

Steroids can be used to treat uveitis and reduce inflammation in the eye. Your ophthalmologist will administer the steroid as an eye drop, pill or injection, depending on the type of uveitis.

Uveitis is often treated with eye drops as it affects the front of the eye whilst tablets or injections are more commonly used for posterior uveitis. Either tablets or injections can be used for intermediate uveitis depending on your symptoms.

Steroids, especially in pill form, can cause serious side effects including glaucoma, osteoporosis, kidney damage, high blood sugar and high blood pressure. For this reason, it is vital to follow your doctor's instructions regarding dosage and to visit them on a regular basis in order to monitor the treatment effectively.

Anterior uveitis is likely to be treated with pupil dilation eye drops (mydriatic eye drops) in addition to steroids. The eye drops will reduce the pain and can also be used to reduce your intraocular pressure should uveitis cause you to have high eye pressure. They can also reduce the risk of glaucoma.

In rare cases, an operation called vitrectomy is needed to treat uveitis. This is only advised if your uveitis is repeated, severe or caused by certain conditions.

If uveitis comes back, blood tests can be undertaken to look for underlying inflammation in other places in of the body. Keeping the inflammation under control will be highly advised to prevent further uveitis recurring.

Complications of uveitis

If left untreated, uveitis can cause the following complications in the long term:

  • Retinal swelling
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Damage to the optic nerve
  • Retinal detachment
  • Permanent vision loss
  • Retinal scarring

Living with uveitis

Uveitis can be controlled, and vision loss prevented so long as the condition is treated early. Following the treatment plan prescribed to you by your ophthalmologist is crucial.

If you have uveitis, the following coping mechanisms can help you to manage the condition:

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