Uveitis is a condition in which the inner lining of the eye (uveal tissue) is inflamed. The inner lining of the eye may be divided into three separate portions. Uveitis includes inflammation of any or all of the inner linings of the eye. The front portion of the inner lining is the iris (iritis), the middle portion is the ciliary body (cyclitis), and the back portion is the vitreous and choroid (vitritis or choroiditis). Uveitis may occur in one or both eyes, and may be chronic or recurrent.
Uveitis is associated with underlying systemic conditions (such as arthritis, sarcoidosis, colitis, etc.) in approximately 50% of patients. A general medical evaluation may be indicated to look for underlying systemic conditions. The extent of the systemic evaluation depends upon many factors, including the duration and severity of the uveitis, and any known underlying medical problems. The systemic evaluation may include various blood tests and X-rays, or consultation with an internist, rheumatologist, or other specialist.
Uveitis may lead to numerous ocular problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, retinal damage, or corneal scarring or damage, any of which may result in loss of vision. Therefore uveitis is usually treated aggressively. Steroid eye drops are used most frequently. Long term treatment with steroid eye drops may result in ocular complications such as cataract, glaucoma, or infection, but the risks of complications with steroids are generally not as great as the risk of complications from untreated uveitis. Nevertheless, the risks and benefits of each treatment option are always carefully weighed in each individual patient, before treatment is administered. Factors to consider include duration and severity of ocular inflammation, health of other eye, patient's age and general health, etc. Occasionally, the ocular inflammation may be severe or may not respond to steroid eye drops alone. In this case, steroid injections around the eye, or oral steroids may be given. In most cases of uveitis, inflammation is eventually controlled and vision is preserved.