WHAT IS UVEITIS? WHAT IS AN UVEITIS ATTACK?
Uveitis is the infection (inflammation) of the internal tissues of the eye surrounded by the transparent cornea and the white colored sclera which are the outermost rigid layers of the eye. Uveitis generally has sudden onset. It may end in recovery, recurrence or chronicity. A sudden exacerbation is called a uveitis attack. Inflammations at the uveal region are divided into 2 groups depending on location. Inflammations at the front mostly involving the front part of the iris and the ciliary body are called “anterior uveitis” which respond to treatment easily and positively. On the other hand, “posterior uveitis” covers inflammations with choroidal and sometimes retinal involvement at the back, which may cause serious permanent vision loss especially when left untreated. “Pars planitis” is a specific inflammatory condition occurring at the periphery of the choroid and the retina, i.e. closer to the ciliary body. It may be kept under close follow-up without treatment in cases without any risk of vision loss. It does not cause serious damage. In posterior uveitis, a condition occurring by the participation of the retina directly or due to adjacency is called “chorioretinitis.” Inflammations concerning the central areas at the back of the eye called the optic nerve and the macula cause serious vision loss whereas inflammations at the periphery do not directly affect visual acuity but may lead to island type vision loss.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF UVEITIS?
The factors responsible for uveitis are mostly unknown, in which case this condition is regarded as “idiopathic.” Another group of uveitis, on the other hand, may be observed comorbid with a specific disease affecting another part of the body, including infectious diseases such as syphilis, tuberculosis, brucellosis, herpes and AIDS. Further, uveitis is also observed to accompany systemic disorders defined to be collagen tissue- and autoimmune-based, such as Behçet’s disease, sarcoidosis, ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis. Uveitis may also develop comorbid with certain tumors. Thus, ophthalmologists should be careful about obtaining a detailed medical history and conducting an extensive ophthalmologic examination in uveitis patients. For patients creating suspicion for a systemic disorder, respective body examination and laboratory tests may be required in order to reveal the underlying disorder.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF AN UVEITIS ATTACK?
When uveitis manifests anterior involvement of the eye, the symptoms in the exacerbation periods include redness in the eye, blurred vision or reduced vision, pain around the eye, light sensitiveness and flying objects in the vision. In case of posterior involvement, the symptoms mostly include blurred vision and reduced vision. If the involvement affects the optic nerve or the central region, a sudden decrease in vision may be experienced and delayed treatment may cause damage to the tissues, hence permanent vision loss. Exacerbation and damages in regions other than the central region manifest as blurred vision which will not lead to reduced visual acuity despite the sequels they may leave, unless the macula or the optic nerve is affected.