Not a lot of people come across the term uveitis as it is quite a rare condition. However, awareness should be raised about it as it can hit anyone, even children. What is uveitis? It is the swelling and irritation of the uvea. The middle layer of the eye, the uvea is found right in the centre, in between the sclera and the retina;it functions as the supplier of blood to the latter.
Uveitis is rather uncommon and those who suffer from it are mostly middle-aged; however, 10% of those afflicted with the disease are, in fact, children. When left untreated, vision loss is a distinct possibility on account of the scars that develop on the retina and choroid. Uveitis can actually lead to other eye diseases such as cataract, glaucoma and macular oedema.
Most of the time, what caused uveitis in a person is not identified; it can even be idiopathic, occurring unexpectedly. There are, however, some factors that could increase the risk of developing the disease. For instance, if a person has autoimmune disorders such as psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis, then he or she is more prone to developing uveitis. Diseases that weaken the immune system, such as AIDS or cancer, can also affect the eye, hence the higher risk for uveitis. Other possible factors that may lead to the condition are eye infections and injuries.
Uveitis symptoms include blurred or cloudy vision, pain and redness in the eye, headaches caused by hypersensitivity to light, a change in the colour of the iris, loss of peripheral vision, and pupils that do not dilate or constrict. However, in case of juvenile onset of uveitis stemming from rheumatoid or idiopathic arthritis, the children usually do not experience any symptoms and their uveitis is not detected until they’ve already lost their eyesight.
Uveitis treatments may come in the form of steroids to deal with the irritation. In the presence of an infection, antibiotics would also be in order. When the uveitis has become chronic, the patient would usually have to go through immunosuppressant therapy.
The key to overcoming uveitis is swift and correct treatment. If you observe yourself or a loved one displaying any of the abovementioned symptoms, make an appointment with an eye doctor right away. In case of a positive diagnosis, make sure that you are treated by a physician who specialises in uveitis, preferably an ocular immunologist trained to treat with immunosuppressant medication.
Even if you feel that your eyes are perfectly healthy, it’s best to make a habit of regularly going for an eye check-up. After all, early detection of any disease gives you much a better chance of defeating it.