What is Uveitis?
Uveitis occurs when the middle layer of the eyeball gets inflamed (red and swollen). This layer, called the uvea, has many blood vessels that nourish the eye. Uveitis can damage vital eye tissue, leading to permanent vision loss.
Uveitis is a general term describing a group of inflammatory diseases that produces swelling and destroys eye tissues. These diseases can slightly reduce vision or lead to severe vision loss.
The term “uveitis” is used because the diseases often affect a part of the eye called the uvea. Nevertheless, uveitis is not limited to the uvea. These diseases also affect the lens, retina, optic nerve, and vitreous, producing reduced vision or blindness.
Uveitis may be caused by problems or diseases occurring in the eye or it can be part of an inflammatory disease affecting other parts of the body. It can happen at all ages and primarily affects people between 20 to 60 years old.
Uveitis can last for a short (acute) or a long (chronic) time. The severest forms of uveitis reoccur many times.
There are 3 types of uveitis. They are based on which part of the uvea is affected.
- Swelling of the uvea near the frontof the eye is called ‘Anterior Uveitis’. It starts suddenly and symptoms can last up to 8 weeks. Some forms of ‘Anterior Uveitis’are on-going, while others go away but keep coming back.
- Swelling of the uvea in the middleof the eye is called ‘Intermediate Uveitis’. Symptoms can last for a few weeks to many years. This form can go through cycles of getting better, then getting worse.
- Swelling of the uvea toward the backof the eye is called ‘Posterior Uveitis’. Symptoms can develop gradually and last for many years.
In severe cases, all layers may be involved.