Uveitis is inflammation of the 'uvea' of the eye. The uvea is made up of three parts. The first part is the iris, which is the colored ring of tissue you can see in the mirror. The dark hole in the middle of the iris is the pupil. The second and third parts, which you cannot see directly when looking in a mirror, are the ciliary body and the choroid. They are located behind the iris. An ophthalmologist can visualize them using special examination equipment.
Inflammation of the iris is called iritis. Inflammation of the ciliary body is called intermediate uveitis or cyclitis. Inflammation of the choroid is called choroiditis. Inflammation of all three is called panuveitis.
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There are several causes of uveitis, including autoimmune disorders (such as sarcoidosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Behcet's disease, and ankylosing spondylitis), infections (such as syphilis and toxoplasmosis), and trauma. Additionally, some are “idiopathic,” meaning the cause is unknown.
Causes Uveitis is usually an isolated illness, but can be associated with many conditions, including diseases with major involvement of other body parts, as well as syndromes confined to the eye.
In anterior uveitis, no associated condition or syndrome is found in approximately one-half of cases. However, anterior uveitis is often one of the syndromes associated with HLA-B27. Presence this type of HLA allele has a relative risk of evolving this disease by approximately 15%.
The most common form of uveitis is acute anterior uveitis (AAU). It is most commonly associated with HLA-B27, which has important features: HLA-B27 AAU can be associated with ocular inflammation alone or in association with systemic disease. HLA-B27 AAU has characteristic clinical features including male preponderance, unilateral alternating acute onset, a non-granulomatous appearance, and frequent recurrences whereas HLA-B27 negative AAU has an equivalent male to female onset, bilateral chronic course, and more frequent granulomatous appearance.