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As a rare inflammatory eye disease, uveitis is a condition that affects just 38 out of every 100,000 people. Though uncommon, it's a serious condition and the fourth leading cause of blindness among younger adults in the United States. Early detection and expert treatment of uveitis are crucial in mitigating these risks, preserving eye health, and maintaining quality of life.

At Infinity Retina, we are uniquely positioned to assist patients in managing this condition. Dr. A'sha Brown, our esteemed, board-certified ophthalmologist, is a uveitis specialist devoted to providing compassionate, comprehensive care. Her expertise ensures our patients receive the best possible treatment and outcomes.

As we take a closer look at this condition, we will discuss the potential causes, symptoms, and treatment options for uveitis. It's essential to remember that only a trained medical professional can provide an accurate diagnosis, and if you suspect you might have uveitis, it's crucial to seek prompt medical attention.

What Is Uveitis?

'Uveitis' comes from the words 'uvea,' the middle layer of the eye, and 'itis,' meaning inflammation. Uveitis, then, refers to inflammation of the eye's middle layer. This layer contains blood vessels that supply essential oxygen and nutrients to the eye, so when inflammation occurs here, it can affect vision and cause severe complications if left untreated.

Uveitis is usually classified into four types, based on the part of the eye it affects.

  • Anterior uveitis, also known as iritis, is the most common type. It involves inflammation in the iris, which is the colored part of the eye. Symptoms often come on suddenly and include redness, light sensitivity, and visual disturbances.
  • Intermediate uveitis primarily involves the vitreous, the gel-filled space in the middle of the eye. This condition may cause floaters and blurred vision but is often painless.
  • Posterior uveitis is an inflammation of the back part of the uvea, affecting the retina and choroid. This is the most severe form and can lead to permanent vision loss.
  • Panuveitis uveitis is a term used when all parts of the uvea are inflamed.

Each type of uveitis can have different causes, present different symptoms, and require different types of treatment. This underlines the importance of getting a professional diagnosis if you have concerns about your eye health.

What Are The Symptoms Of Uveitis?

Though uveitis symptoms can vary depending on the type, certain signs are common across all forms:

  • Eye redness, with or without pain
  • Increased sensitivity to bright light
  • Blurred or reduced vision
  • Floating dark spots or squiggly lines in your vision (floaters)

It's essential to note that these symptoms can manifest suddenly or gradually, and they may come and go over time. Some individuals may experience only mild symptoms, while others may have severe symptoms that worsen rapidly.

These symptoms can also be indicative of other eye conditions, which is why a proper evaluation by a uveitis specialist like Dr. Brown is necessary for an accurate diagnosis.

Can Conjunctivitis Cause Uveitis? What Else Causes It?

Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is a common and highly contagious inflammation of the thin, clear tissue that lines the inside of your eyelids and covers the white part of your eye. Uveitis and conjunctivitis have similar symptoms, but they are distinct conditions.

Though rare, conjunctivitis can trigger uveitis. In fact, uveitis can be caused by both infectious and non-infectious triggers.

  • Infectious Causes: Certain bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa can lead to uveitis. As an example, just like conjunctivitis, the varicella-zoster virus that results in chickenpox and shingles may also trigger uveitis. Other infectious causes include toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection, and tuberculosis, a bacterial infection.
  • Non-Infectious Causes: Autoimmune disorders, where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues, can also cause uveitis. Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sarcoidosis, or multiple sclerosis fall under this category. In some cases, uveitis can be associated with inflammatory disorders such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

It's also important to note that in a significant number of cases, the exact cause of uveitis remains unknown.

As for risk factors, while anyone can develop uveitis, it is most common in people aged 20 to 60. In addition to having a pre-existing autoimmune disorder, smoking can also increase the risk of developing uveitis. However, while these factors can heighten your risk, they do not guarantee the development of uveitis; likewise, you can develop uveitis without any of these risk factors.

How Is Uveitis Diagnosed & Treated?

Diagnosing uveitis is a complex process that can only be accurately carried out by an experienced ophthalmologist or uveitis specialist like Dr. Brown. Though any eye doctor can provide a comprehensive eye examination and perform preliminary tests, correctly interpreting the results and diagnosing rare conditions like uveitis requires specialized knowledge and experience.

It's not uncommon for uveitis to be overlooked or misdiagnosed  by less experienced practitioners due to its rarity and the subtlety of its symptoms. This can lead to inappropriate treatment, potentially resulting in irreversible eye damage. It underscores the need to consult a uveitis specialist if symptoms persist despite initial treatment or if they worsen abruptly.

Once diagnosed, the treatment of uveitis is targeted at reducing inflammation, relieving pain, and preventing further tissue and vision damage. For this reason, uveitis treatment typically involves the use of steroids to reduce inflammation and prevent further vision loss.

This is typically achieved via eye drops, though oral medications may also be used. In more severe cases, the medication may be injected in or around the eye for a more targeted effect. If other treatments don't work, an implant may be placed in the eye to release medication gradually.

In addition to steroids, treating the underlying cause of uveitis is also crucial for long-term management and prevention of recurrent episodes. This may involve managing underlying autoimmune disorders or prescribing antibiotics to treat infectious uveitis causes.

No matter the treatment approach, managing uveitis requires close monitoring and follow-up care with a specialist to ensure optimal results and to prevent relapses. At Infinity Retina, we are committed to providing the highest level of care throughout this process, guided by Dr. Brown's expertise and deep understanding of this rare disease.

How Do I Get Started With A Uveitis Specialist Near Me?

The importance of seeking medical attention from a specialist when dealing with a rare and complex condition like uveitis cannot be overstated. Accurate uveitis diagnosis and timely treatment are pivotal to managing this condition effectively, preserving your vision, and preventing long-term damage.

Dr. A'sha Brown is a seasoned uveitis specialist who provides excellent patient care and the latest treatment options. If you're concerned about your eye health, need a second opinion, or have been diagnosed with uveitis and need treatment, we invite you to schedule an appointment at Infinity Retina. We look forward to helping you achieve the best possible outcomes for your vision and overall well-being.

At Infinity Retina, compassion and expertise are at the core of everything we do. Schedule an appointment online with Dr. A'sha Brown or call our office at (610) 606-1671 to get started on your journey towards healthier eyes and better vision.