Northeast Wisconsin Retina Associates

CLINICAL CONDITIONS

UVEITIS

Uveitis is a generic term referring to inflammation within the eye. The eye is a hollow structure as outlined in Anatomy and Function of the Eye. The eye wall consists of three basic layers. The outer layer of the eye wall is composed of the sclera (the white part of the eye) which is contiguous with the cornea (the clear front part of the eye). The inner layer is the light-sensitive tissue called the retina. The intermediate layer is called the uvea. The uvea is a continuous pigmented layer that extends the entire length of the eye. In the front portion of the eye this tissue layer is familiar as the iris (the colored part of the eye).

Inflammation of the uvea is called uveitis. There are many forms of uveitis which are classified by both cause and location (what portion of the uvea is affected). Uveitis represents an extremely diverse group of disorders. Some cases result in only mild difficulties while in others, severe loss of vision may occur.

Retinal specialists are usually involved in the management of more aggressive vision-threatening forms of uveitis. Most forms of uveitis are felt to be immunologically based. In other words, the body’s immune system reacts against normal tissues within the eye. This is similar to a variety of other immunological conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis where the body’s immune system reacts against cartilage in joints. As in the case of all immunological disorders, the mainstay of treatment typically involves anti-inflammatory drugs or medications to suppress or modulate the activity of the immune system. Treatment options for patients with uveitis must be individualized and may include eye drops, injections of medications adjacent to or into the eye and/or use of anti-inflammatory or immunomodulatory drugs taken orally.

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