Anterior Uveitis

Anterior uveitis is an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye. This middle layer includes the iris (colored part of the eye) and adjacent tissue, known as the ciliary body.
Anterior Uveitis - irritated eyes

Causes & risk factors

Anterior uveitis can result from a trauma to the eye, such as being hit in the eye or having a foreign body in the eye. It can also be associated with general health problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, syphilis, tuberculosis, sarcoid, viral (herpes simplex, herpes zoster, cytomegalovirus) or idiopathic, which is no obvious underlying cause.

Symptoms

  • Red, sore and inflamed eye.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Small, or irregular-shaped pupil.

Diagnosis

The symptoms of anterior uveitis can be similar to those of other eye conditions. Therefore, a doctor of optometry will carefully examine the front and inside of the eye with a unique microscope using high magnification. A doctor of optometry may also perform or arrange for other diagnostic tests to help pinpoint the cause.

Treatment

  • Prescription eye drops, which dilate the pupils, in combination with anti-inflammatory drugs. Dilating drops will blur vision and increase light sensitivity. However, by relaxing the iris muscles, the eye will be much more comfortable. The treatment takes several days or—in some cases—several weeks. Never discontinue medications early as this could result in a rapid reoccurrence of the uveitis.
  • If the condition does not respond well to prescription drops, injections of steroid medications just under the outer tissue of the eye may be needed.
  • Occasionally, oral steroid medications will be used.

Prevention

Anterior uveitis in an otherwise healthy individual cannot be prevented since often the cause is not known. However, in persons with auto-immune diseases, taking care of those conditions can lead to better health for the body, including the eyes. To prevent serious complications, including permanent loss of some or all vision, early diagnosis and proper treatment is essential.

If untreated, glaucoma, cataract or retinal edema can develop and cause permanent loss of vision. Anterior has been called iritis. Anterior uveitis usually responds well to treatment; however, the condition tends to recur.

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