Uveitis and Vasculitis

Uveitis (pronounced you-vee-eye-tis) is inflammation of the uvea — the middle layer of the eye that consists of the iris, ciliary body and choroid. Uveitis is a general term describing a group of inflammatory diseases affecting the eyes that can lead to slightly reduced vision or severe vision loss if not properly treated. While uveitis may occur at any age, working-aged individuals between 20 – 50 years old are affected most frequently.

Uveitis can have many causes, including eye injury and inflammatory diseases. Exposure to toxic chemicals such as pesticides and acids used in manufacturing processes also can cause uveitis.

The type of uveitis you have is classified by where inflammation occurs in the uvea:

Anterior uveitis is inflammation of the iris (iritis) or the iris and ciliary body.

Intermediate uveitis is inflammation of the ciliary body.

Posterior uveitis is inflammation of the choroid.

Diffuse uveitis (also called pan uveitis) is inflammation of all areas of the uvea.

 

Many cases of uveitis are chronic, and they can produce numerous possible complications, including clouding of the cornea, cataracts, elevated eye pressure (IOP), glaucoma, swelling of the retina or retinal detachment. These complications can result in permanent vision loss.

Uveitis occurs most frequently in people ages 20 to 50. A California study estimated that more than 280,000 people in the United States are affected by uveitis each year, which is almost three times greater than previously thought. During FDA clinical trials, the recurrence of uveitis fell from 40-54% to 7-14% following Retisert implantation. The most common side effects noted during those studies were cataract progression, increased intraocular pressure, procedural complications and eye pain. In a later study, researchers found that surgical implantation of the Retisert device was equally effective as systemic corticosteroid medications for the treatment of non-infectious intermediate, posterior and diffuse uveitis over a period of 24 months.

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