London Medical Ophthalmology

Uveitis

Uveitis is inflammation of the middle layer of the eye. It can cause pain, redness, cloudy vision and light sensitivity.

What is uveitis?

Uveitis is a serious eye condition — if untreated, it can lead to vision loss, making it the second most common cause of blindness in working-age people. Uveitis is closely connected with autoimmune disorders, infections and other eye conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts, so it’s critical to see an ophthalmologist who specialises in this complex eye disease.

Understanding uveitis

Uveitis affects the middle part of the eye called the uvea. The uvea is made of three parts:

  • The iris is the coloured part of the eye.
  • The ciliary body is the part of the eye that makes aqueous humour, the fluid that nourishes the eye and maintains ocular pressure.
  • The choroid is the layer between the retina and the sclera (the white part of the eye).

Uveitis is categorised by which part of the eye is affected:

  • Anterior uveitis is inflammation of the iris in the front of the eye. It is the most common form of the condition.
  • Intermediate uveitis affects the middle part of the eye, including the retinal vessels.
  • Posterior uveitis is the most severe form of the condition. It affects the choroid and retina in the back of the eye. If untreated, this type of uveitis can cause vision loss.

If inflammation of the eye affects both the front and the back of the eye, it is called panuveitis. Like posterior uveitis, it is a sight-threatening condition, so you should seek treatment immediately.

Although uveitis can be treated, it’s not uncommon for individuals to experience recurring uveitis after a lapse of several months or chronic uveitis (inflammation that returns within three months of treatment).

Uveitis can lead to many serious eye complications if not treated properly, including:

  • glaucoma,
  • cataract,
  • retina detachment,
  • cystoid macular oedema (CMO),
  • and vision loss.

Signs and symptoms of uveitis

Symptoms of uveitis can affect one or both eyes. They can develop slowly over a few days or suddenly over a few hours. If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, you should see an ophthalmologist without delay:

  • eye pain or aching eyes
  • redness
  • sensitivity to light
  • blurred or clouded vision
  • floaters
  • loss of peripheral vision.

Causes of uveitis and risk factors

Inflammation in one part of the body — in this case, the eyes — is often linked with underlying immune system problems. The causes may vary, but they could include:

  • autoimmune or inflammatory disorders such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, ankylosing
  • spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, etc.
  • eye injury or surgery
  • viral, bacterial or fungal infections such as toxoplasmosis, shingles, herpes, tuberculosis, etc.

An underlying cause cannot be found for roughly half of cases, even after a thorough clinical investigation.

Uveitis can affect anyone of any age, but it is more commonly found in adults aged 20-60. If you smoke, you also have a higher risk.

Our approach to treating uveitis

At London Medical, you’ll receive the very best care from leading ophthalmologists at the cutting-edge of their field. The diagnosis and treatment of uveitis is spearheaded by one of the foremost uveitis experts in the UK, Mr Peter Addison. Your personalised treatment plan will reflect the latest advances in a rapidly-developing field.

London Medical brings together state-of-the-art equipment and diagnostics, a friendly and caring team and prompt treatment tailored to your needs — all in our comfortable and accessible ground-floor clinic.

Getting diagnosed

The sooner uveitis is treated, the better the outcome, so early detection is critical. Some cases with no symptoms are found during regular dilated eye exams.

Our uveitis consultant will work with you to determine the underlying cause of your uveitis so that they can tailor your treatment to you. This will include a complete eye exam and a thorough clinical assessment.

Investigations might include:

  • complete medical history
  • blood tests
  • chest X-rays

Treatment

If an infection or autoimmune condition is found, the focus of your treatment will be to control the underlying cause to prevent secondary inflammation in the eye. Depending on your condition, your consultant might work with other consultants to devise a personalised treatment plan for you. Your treatment could include antibiotics, antiviral medication or immunosuppressants.

However, even if an underlying cause of your uveitis cannot be determined, it’s essential to control the inflammation in the eye – this is primarily achieved with steroid treatment and steroid-sparing agents.

  • Steroid eye drops are the first treatment option for cases of inflammation at the front of the eyes (anterior uveitis).
  • Intravitreal steroid injections and steroid tablets are used in more severe cases of anterior uveitis and for intermediate and posterior uveitis.
  • Intravitreal steroid implants are highly effective steroid devices that slowly release small doses of steroids into your eye over a long period of time (from several months to three years). A steroid implant is the most effective method of controlling inflammation at the back of the eye for patients with recurrent or chronic uveitis. It not only reduces the number of steroid injections needed but also reduces the risks of receiving higher doses of steroids for harder-to-treat inflammation.

In rare cases, your consultant might recommend a vitrectomy to remove the vitreous humour, the jelly-like substance in the eyes.

Taking steroids can increase your risk of getting cataracts and glaucoma. Your uveitis consultant will carefully monitor you for signs and symptoms of these conditions and work closely with other specialists at London Medical to offer specialised glaucoma treatment or cataract surgery if necessary.

Why choose London Medical for your uveitis treatment?

At London Medical, you’ll benefit from:

  • Prompt treatment – There’s no wait to be seen or for follow-up appointments.
  • State-of-the-art diagnostic equipment – We have the latest imaging technology and an expert team who provides first-class imaging without delay.
  • Continuity of treatment – You’ll be seen by the same consultant who will know your history and carefully monitor your progress.
  • Welcoming environment – Our patients tell us they appreciate the clinic’s easy ground-floor access and friendly, caring staff.
    Integrated end-to-end care – We have experts who can look after your whole health.

Our Consultants

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London Medical is located in the Harley Street medical area. Together with top experts across a range of multi-disciplinary fields, we offer the finest facilities for your care, all under one roof.

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