Uveitis/Iritis

What is uveitis?

Uveitis is an inflammatory disease affecting primarily the middle layer of the eye known as the uvea. Anterior uveitis, also referred to as iritis, is the type of uveitis commonly associated with spondyloarthritis. Iritis is the swelling of the uvea in the anterior compartment of the eye. If left untreated, this swelling can cause damage to essential eye tissue resulting in vision impairment or loss. Additional information can be found at the National Eye Institute.

What are the symptoms of uveitis? 

Signs and symptoms of uveitis to keep an “eye” out for include:

  • Redness of the eye
  • Sensitivity to bright lights (this may cause headaches or pain behind the eyes)
  • Blurred vision
  • Sudden specks appearing in your vision

What should I do when symptoms appear?

Immediately contact your ophthalmologist or family physician. Uveitis is closely related to other diseases requiring in additional testing (blood, genetic, hereditary tests; as well as x-rays, eye examinations, etc.) needed to rule out compounding conditions and causes. A general practicing ophthalmologist may be able to diagnose uveitis, but often an ocular immunologist will be referred to help treat and manage the disease. To learn more about uveitis treatment and support resources, visit Uveitis Canada.

How can I prevent and manage uveitis going forward?

There are several ways that uveitis is treated and managed. Treatments may include topical therapies, corticosteroid injections, systemic nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressive drugs and biological therapy. A comprehensive article on current treatment trends can be found here.

Healthcare Professional Comment:

“Uveitis is seen in 25-40% of AS patients depending on when we do the assessment. Uveitis associated with AS usually affects one eye, causes severe pain, blurring of vision and redness. The pain may be in and around the eye or it could manifest as a headache. Uveitis, psoriasis and IBD are the most common associated comorbidities in AS patients. The explanation for this high concurrence rate may lie in genes. There is significant overlap in the genes associated with these conditions and AS.” – Dr. Nigil Haroon, Rheumatologist

Peer to Peer:

Read comments from other iritis and/or uveitis patients who share advice based on personal experience.

Additional support on Uveitis & Iritis:

  • USC is a non-profit support organization for anyone living with uveitisor other ocular inflammatory disease.

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Disclaimer: All information is provided for your general knowledge only, and is not a substitute for the advice from and care by health professionals. Please consult your health care professional regarding details of symptoms, diagnosis and medication or treatment. Any information or links do not imply endorsement by the Canadian Spondylitis Association.