Uveitis is a general term describing a host of inflammatory eye diseases that involve swelling and destruction of eye tissue. Anterior uveitis is the most common form of this group of diseases, affecting mostly young and middle-aged people. Anterior uveitis occurs in the front of the eye and many cases are diagnosed in perfectly healthy individuals.
What Is Anterior Uveitis?
The term uveitis is used because the part of the eye that is often affected is the uvea, or the middle layer containing the iris. This makes it seem as though the disease only affects a specific area, but any case of uveitis can spread to other parts of the eye including the lens, retina, optic nerve, and vitreous.
What Causes Anterior Uveitis?
Uveitis is caused by the body’s natural response mechanisms to repair tissue damage. The inflammation caused by the disease creates heat, pain and swelling which activates white blood cells rush to the affected area to heal the trauma. There are several causes of anterior uveitis:
An autoimmune deficiency causing the body to attack its own immune system
Tumors or infections within the eye
Bruises or any general injury
Toxins that can penetrate the eye
Signs And Symptoms To Look Out For
Symptoms of anterior uveitis often mimic those of other eye diseases. Our highly trained Optometrists can examine your eyes to determine the specific condition or affliction you are experiencing . Signs of uveitis can include:
Sore, red or inflamed eyes
Blurry vision and sensitivity to light
Small or irregularly shaped pupils
Diagnosing And Treating Anterior Uveitis
Thorough examination and testing are necessary to accurately diagnose uveitis. Laboratory tests to rule out an infection or autoimmune disease are usually done in conjunction with other evaluations such as a central nervous system test. Different eye exams can also be done, including:
Visual Acuity Test to determine if a patient’s vision has decreased
Funduscopic Exam where the pupil is dilated with eye drops so that the back and inside of the eye can be examined
Ocular Pressure to measure pressure inside the eye
Slit Lamp Exam is done through noninvasive methods to inspect blood vessels and pressure inside the eye
Once it’s determined that anterior uveitis is responsible for the patient’s symptoms, treatment can be done to alleviate pain and inflammation. Preventing further damage and restoring sight are the main treatment objectives and can include
Corticosteroid eye drops and injections around the eye
Eye drops to dilate the pupil and prevent muscle spasms
Anterior uveitis should be treated immediately. If left untreated, glaucoma, cataracts, or retinal detachment can occur.