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Uveitis

What is it?

Uveitis refers to a group of conditions which cause inflammation in the eye. There are many types of uveitis, each with different causes and treatments.

Most patients in the UK have anterior uveitis, also known as iritis. In most types of iritis it is thought that the body’s immune system has made a mistake and is attacking the eye instead of attacking bacteria.

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The Symptoms

With Iritis, you will have a red, painful eye, sensitive to light, with blurred vision. In most cases it is not known why this happens. There may be a related condition affecting other parts of the body. Low back pain from Ankylosing Spondylitis is the commonest association.

Is it serious?

The prognosis is usually very good with treatment but serious visual loss can sometimes occur if it is not managed correctly. It is important to have your eyes checked as both uveitis and steroid eye drops can cause raised eye pressure, increasing the risk of glaucoma.

What are the treatments?

Most anterior uveitis (iritis) is easily treated with steroid eye drops such as dexamethasone, maxidex or predforte. These are used frequently at first, usually every hour during the day for a few days; the frequency is gradually reduced over several weeks to one drop a day, before being stopped completely.

 

When treatment for uveitis is first started dilating drops are usually also prescribed. Dilating drops include cyclopentolate, tropicamide and atropine. These make the pupill big, reduce pain and stop the iris getting stuck to the lens. The dilating drops also temporarily paralyse the eye's focusing mechanism so most people experience blurred vision until they stop using them usually after one week. 

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Uveitis information group: www.uveitis.net

NHS Patient Advice: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Uveitis/Pages/Introduction.aspx

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