Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Uveitis Information Group?
- What is the Uveitis Information Group Mission?
- How do I locate a Uveitis specialist?
- What is uveitis?
- Why Me?
- What types of uveitis are there?
- Can I be cured?
- Is it caused by stress?
- Why do I have to use drops?
- Are steroid drops dangerous? Do they cause cataracts?
- Will I have to take tablets?
- How will I know the uveitis is under control or is no longer present?
- Will I go blind?
- Should I worry if a cause cannot be found for my uveitis?
- How will uveitis and the medications given to treat it affect a pregnancy and breast feeding?
- How can I tell if my child has uveitis?
- What is the difference in inflammation and infection?
- What causes Uveitis?
- How many people get Uveitis?
- Is Uveitis contagious?
- What research is being conducted on Uveitis?
- Are there any Clinical Trials in which I can participate?
- My Ophthalmologist used a lot of language I didn't understand. Is a glossary available?
- Are there any support groups available for patients with Uveitis?
Uveitis Information Group aim to:
- provide clear information about uveitis and its treatment for patients, families, researchers, ophthalmologists and other healthcare providers.
- raise the profile of uveitis
- support patients who have been diagnosed with uveitis and ophthalmologists dealing with uveitis
- improve services so that people with a potential diagnosis of uveitis are seen by an appropriate person and avoidable eyesight loss is minimised
- To promote a positive attitude to all aspects of uveitis
- To encourage the best possible communication and cooperation between patients and medical staff involved in the treatment of uveitis.
- To raise funds in order to increase awareness of uveitis
- The UIG is interested in feedback in the form of comments, articles or letters for the newsletters, from both uveitis sufferers and medical staff.
If necessary, the Uveitis Information Group can assist anyone who needs help finding a uveitis specialist.The term uveitis really means that you have inflammation inside the eye. There are lots of different types of uveitis with many causes so the term itself does not say anything about the severity or cause. It is not one single disorder. We do not know why people get certain forms of uveitis. For some types of uveitis, it can be caused by trauma or injury to the eye.For other types of uveitis, it can be associated with an infection (e.g. toxoplasmosis) or another illness or disease, such as sarcoidosis or behçets Disease.
Other patients with uveitis have an increased likelihood of contracting it due to the genes they carry (eg some types of uveitis are associated with certain gene types such as HLA B27 and HLA A29). However, most people who carry these genes do not get uveitis, so it is likely that uveitis is an autoimmune disease (an illness that occurs when the body tissues are attacked by its own immune system) which is triggered either by a virus or an infection or an environmental factor. For these types of uveitis, treatment is usually based around trying to stop the immune system attacking your body.Uveitis is divided initially into:
- anterior in which only the front part of the eye is involved (this is also sometimes called iritis and iridocylitis). Anterior uveitis can be subdivided into acute disease which lasts a few weeks and chronic disease which is defined as lasting more than 3 months and can last many years. Anterior uveitis is the most common type of uveitis.
- posterior in which the back of the eye is involved (the choroids and retinal layers) Posterior uveitis is usually chronic and can last a long time except in patients with toxoplasmosis when it may settle in a few weeks. It is important to know which type of uveitis you have as this determines the type of investigations and treatment you need and well as the complications.
- intermediate uveitis which is inflammation just behind the iris (sometimes known as pars planitis).
- panuveitis or diffuse uveitis is the term used when all three of the above categories are involved.
Current theories of why people get these autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, insulin dependent diabetes in young people, thyroid disease and uveitis include certain infections in which the immune system responds by producing cells to fight the infecting which also react incidentally with self tissue. This would not happen in everyone but only in patients with a certain genetic make-up which would form these cross-reactive cells. By the time the uveitis occurs, it is no use treating the infection as it has long gone from the body - it is the immune response which causes the damage and this is what is treated.Drops are the most frequent type of therapy used to treat uveitis and are not a threat as only very low doses get into the bloodstream.
Drugs taken by mouth include steroids, azathioprine, cyclosporine, methotrexate, mycophenolate mofetil, tacrolimus and diamox amongst others used less commonly. Of these diamox is definitely contraindicated in pregnancy but the others are less clear cut. There is a risk with any drugs you take in pregnancy and although the risk is small, it is not zero. It is better not to be pregnant or breastfeeding on anything. However, this is not always realistic and most of the experience comes from patients who have had kidney transplants, are on similar medications and have had successful normal pregnancies. If you are contemplating getting pregnant or become pregnant while taking these type of drugs, it is very important that you discuss the situation with your ophthalmologist as quickly as possible. In this way, everything can be discussed and a plan that is best for you sorted out.
Acute uveitis has some fairly obvious symptoms:
- Painful, red eyes
- Photophobia (sensitivity to light).
Your child may:
- avoid outside play such as the playground and sport
- be clumsy
- watch television in a different or strange way
- fall over frequently, bump into things, or trip on uneven ground
- have swollen or painful joints, especially around the fingers and knees.
Therefore inflammation may occur without infection, but rarely does infection occur without inflammation. Uveitis is an inflammatory disease that can be caused by infectious OR non infectious processes.As mentioned above, uveitis may be caused by infectious and non infectious processes. There are hundreds of possible causes of uveitis and many more which ophthalmologists have not even discovered yet! To gain more knowledge in those areas where information is known, visit the Essential Info page of this web site. It is estimated that as many as 500,000 people in the UK may be suffering from uveitis at any one time. This figure is based on extrapolated data and may not be very accurate, but it is the best estimate that we currently have. In general, you cannot "catch" uveitis from someone else, no matter how close your contact with that person. Uveitis is an inflammatory disease within the eye. However, certain infections which can cause uveitis are transmittable from person to person, such as Tuberculosis and Syphilis. Patients should discuss possible causes of their uveitis with their doctor. A number of scientists conduct research which has either direct or indirect importance to uveitis diagnosis and treatment. Go to the Clinical Trials section of the website where a list of current trials can be found. Research is also being carried out in many other countries, including the UK, France and Germany. Yes! Please see the Research and Trials section of the website where a detailed description tells you what is involved in a clinical trial and there is a link to current studies. Yes! This site has an online Glossary of Terms Yes! Our Support section on this website has a list of links to uveitis-specific support groups known to us.