Uveitis, or ocular inflammation, is inflammation of the uvea, which is the middle layer of the eye. The eye is shaped like a tennis ball, with three different layers of tissue surrounding a central gel-filled cavity.
The innermost layer is the retina, which senses light and helps to send images to the brain. The middle layer between the sclera and retina is called the uvea. The outermost layer is the sclera, which is the external white wall of the eye.
What is the importance of the uvea?The uvea contains many blood vessels – veins and arteries that carry blood to the eye. Since it nourishes many important parts of the eye (such as the retina), inflammation of the uvea can damage your sight.
Are there different types of ocular inflammation?
A simple way for classifying types of ocular inflammation is according to the affected part of the eye:
What causes ocular inflammation?Ocular inflammation may be the result of a wide variety of causes, including infection and inflammatory disorders. Some conditions may affect other parts of the body. In many cases however, despite thorough investigations, the cause remains unknown.
Idiopathic episcleritisAnterior scleritis (diffuse or nodular, with or without necrosis)Posterior scleritis
A careful eye examination by an ophthalmologist is extremely important when symptoms occur. Inflammation inside the eye can permanently affect sight or even lead to blindness, if it is not treated.
Your ophthalmologist will examine the inside of your eye. He or she may order blood tests, skin tests or x-rays to help make the diagnosis. Since uveitis can be associated with disease in the rest of the body, your ophthalmologist will want to know about your overall health. He or she may want to consult with your primary care physician or other medical specialists.
Ocular inflammation is a serious eye condition that may scar the eye. You need to have it treated as soon as possible. Eye drops, especially steroids and pupil dilators, can reduce inflammation and pain. For more severe inflammation, oral medication or injections may be necessary.
Uveitis may have these complications:
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