Uveitis (yoo-’ve-i’tis) refers specifically to inflammation of the “uvea” or middle layer of the eye. However, it is commonly used as a general term to refer to any inflammation of the eye. Uveitis is a rare disease. Even the most common type occurs in only one person out of 12,000.
To understand uveitis and its treatment, it is easier to think of uveitis as arthritis. Arthritis is inflammation of the joints of the body. The body’s immune system becomes confused and starts to attack or reject the cartilage in the joints of the body, leading to joint damage and loss of function. The only way to prevent this damage is to suppress the immune system with corticosteroids or immunosuppressive drugs.
Similarly, in uveitis, the body’s immune system attacks the eye. Unless the immune system is kept in check by the use of either steroids or other immunosuppressive drugs, loss of vision, retinal damage, cataracts, and glaucoma can occur.