Uveitis involves inflammation of the uveal tract, a term which encapsulates the ocular structures of the iris, ciliary body and choroid. In the developed world, uveitis is the 4th most common cause of visual impairment and must be taken seriously as the promptness of the treatment will have a beneficial impact on the outcome. Whilst some causes of uveitis can be caused by infections involving bacteria, fungus and viruses (such as tuberculosis, syphilis, herpetic infections, HIV/AIDS, toxoplasmosis), some can be mediated by one’s immune system which begins to attack the healthy cells of the eye (HLA-B27 seronegative spondyloarthropathies). Further, it is possible to have causes of uveitis occur without an identifiable cause. In these cases, it is termed idiopathic.
Onset of uveitis is sudden, and is marked by severe pain that feels like it radiates through other structures, but starts within the eye. Upon looking at the eye, it may look red and irritated. An ocular examination of the anterior chamber, the front chamber of the eye which normally contains clear aqueous humour liquid, may uncover cells and flare which cause a non-transparent chamber. The back surface of the eye, the retina, may also be inflamed in uveitis, as the condition can present signs of lesions and inflammation of the vessels.
Depending on the cause of the uveitis, accompanying symptoms of arthritis of the back, knees and hands is possible. Further testing, where appropriate with specialists, may be necessary to investigate the proper cause of uveitis and continue treatment.
If you are experiencing a red painful eye, please contact us on 9728 7288 for an eye examination to see one of our optometrists.