Uveitis for Medical-Legal Issues

posted in: Eye Conditions

Medical Background

Uveitis is inflammation of that portion of the eye referred to as the uveal tract.  The uveal tract consists of the iris, ciliary body, and the choroids.  The individual components of the uveal tract serve different functions, but are anatomically a continuously layer.  Individual components of the uveal tract may be inflammation, or the uveal tract may sustain generalized inflammation along its entire length. Inflammation of the uveal tract often involves inflammation of adjacent structures such as the retina and vitreous.

Inflammation limited to the iris (iritis) is recognized on slit lamp microscopic examination by finding cells and protein in fluid in the front portion of the eye (aqueous).  The amount of turbidity of the aqueous fluid is directly correlated with the amount of inflammatory iritis.  Clinically, this is graded on a scale of one to four with four being the most severe.

Inflammation of the ciliary body (pars planitis) is rare and has a predilection for young individuals.  Inflammatory cells may accumulate in white aggregates on the ciliary body.

Inflammation of the choroids (choroiditis) often involves the adjacent retina and vitreous.  This type of inflammation can also cause swelling (edema) of the retina with decreased vision.

Symptoms of Uveitis

  • blurred vision
  • redness of the eye
  • eye discomfort

Causes of Uveitis

Uveitis has a number of various causes.  Some of the most common causes include infections, autoimmune disease, intraocular foreign body, and eye trauma.  However, in most cases of uveitis the cause is unknown.

Complications of Uveitis

Inflammation inside the eye can lead to complications.  The extent of complications is directly correlated with the severity and duration of uveitis.  Some of the most common and significant complications include:

  • cataract formation
  • glaucoma
  • retinal swelling (edema)
  • retinal scar tissue

Treatment of Uveitis

  • Antimetabolities
  • Steroids medications (eye drops and/or oral tablets)

Cases in Point

Dr. Reynard has written extensively on sympathetic uveitis.  His articles address causation, genetic linkage, prognosis, and the influence of surgical procedures on patients with this type of uveitis.

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