Strictly speaking, acute uveitis is the inflammation of the uvea, which is the middle layer of the eye. However, this term can extend to any inflammatory process in the inner part of the eye.
Uveitis can be an inflammation or an infection, or, to be more precise, the inflammation, irritation and swelling that are characteristic for uveitis can occur due to infectious and non-infectious causes.
As for the symptoms, in acute uveitis they include redness, pain and sensitivity to light. In chronic uveitis, the pain is almost constant and it is mostly dull. There may also be some blurring of the vision.
Treatment for uveitis
In many cases the real cause of uveitis remains unknown, which makes it difficult to treat with more specific medications. Commonly, this condition is treated with corticosteroids like cortisone, to reduce the inflammation and to prevent potential structural damage to the eye.
Corticosteroids can be administered in form of eyedrops, pills, ointments or injections. However, corticosteroids that are taken orally, in form of a pill, like Prednisone, can have adverse side effects. Local corticosteroids, in form of ointments and eye drops, can also have side effects, like glaucoma, cataract and the inability to fight the infections in the eye area, which is why patients who take these medications should have regular check-ups at the doctor’s office.
Types of uveitis
Aside from acute uveitis, there are other types of this form of eye inflammation. Acute iritis is the inflammation of the eye, typical for young adults.
Chronic iridocyclitis affects both the iris and ciliary body behind it. In children, it can be associated with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and it does not necessarily affect the sight so the child complains about it, which is why it is important to regularly see the ophthalmologist if the child is already diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
Pars planitis affects mostly teenagers and young adults and it is not associated with any systemic disease. The symptoms include blurred vision and spots that float before the eyes. This condition is relatively easy to treat and rarely leaves permanent consequences for the vision.
Toxoplasmic retinitis is an infection of the retina caused by a parasite, to which more than 30 percent of the US population is exposed. This infection can be blinding but it rarely happens, because if it is caught on time and treated with antibiotics, the cure rate is very high.
Sarcoidosis, which is an inflammation of the unknown source, can affect any part of the body, including the eye. It can be treated with corticosteroids.
Another type of uveitis is viral retinitis, usually caused by herpes viruses, and it mostly affects people with compromised immune system, like HIV or AIDS patients.