What is uveitis?
Three layers of tissues surround your eye. The middle layer, the uvea, contains most of the eye’s blood vessels. This layer also includes your iris and a group of muscles (the ciliary body) that help your eyes focus by controlling the shape of the lens.
Uveitis, or chorioretinitis, refers to inflammation that generally occurs in the uvea, though it can affect other parts of your eye. Your uveitis may be acute and short-lived or become chronic. In severe cases, it’s a frequently recurring condition. Uveitis can also lead to serious complications like glaucoma and vision loss.
What are the different types of uveitis?
Anterior uveitis causes swelling near the front of your eye, affecting the area around the iris. It’s the most common type of uveitis and is usually acute, developing suddenly and going away within six weeks.
When swelling occurs in the uvea near the middle of your eye, it’s called intermediate uveitis. This type is the least typical and is likely to become chronic, sometimes lasting years and going through recurring cycles of getting better, then flaring again.
Posterior uveitis causes inflammation in the uvea toward the back of your eye. It often affects your retina, which is outside the uvea, and the choroid body, the part of your uvea that contains blood vessels, and may also involve the optic nerve well. This type usually develops in both eyes and can lead to vision loss.
Panuveitis is inflammation of all layers of the uvea of the eye, which includes the iris, ciliary body, and choroid
What causes uveitis?
Uveitis develops from numerous problems and conditions, including:
- Infection that starts in your eye
- Infection that starts elsewhere in your body
- Response to toxins that get into your eyes
- Underlying chronic disease
In many cases, the cause of uveitis can’t be determined. However, it can arise from many possible health conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), and the Epstein-Barr virus.