PATIENT ADVOCACY / UVEITIS
Uveitis is a leading cause of blindness for middle-aged people in the Western world. It is estimated to cause 10% to 15% of all cases of total blindness in the United States. Uveitis is classified by which part of the uvea it affects. Anterior uveitis refers to inflammation of the iris alone (called iritis) or the iris and ciliary body. Anterior uveitis is the most common form. Intermediate uveitis refers to inflammation of the ciliary body. Posterior uveitis is inflammation of the choroid. Diffuse uveitis is inflammation in all areas of the uvea.
Nearly half the people with posterior uveitis develop visual impairment or legal blindness.
Overall, uveitis occurs most frequently in people ages 20 to 50. A California study estimated that more than 280,000 people in the United States are affected by some form of uveitis each year, which is almost three times greater than previously thought. The study, based on medical records from six northern California communities, also estimated that uveitis is the reason for 30,000 new cases of blindness a year and up to 10% of all the cases of blindness.
Uveitis is the inflammation or swelling of the inside (uveal layer) of the eye. Inflammation that affects the back of the eye is called posterior uveitis. Flare-ups of inflammation of the uveal layer can last for short or long periods of time. Inflammation may result in blurred vision, floaters (small spots in your field of vision), and difficulty focusing. This may make day-to-day routines difficult or impossible. A person with uveitis may not be able to drive a car, go to school, or work. More important, over time, the damage caused by each flare-up can result in permanent vision loss. A loss of vision can lead to a loss of independence that can seriously impact a person’s life as well as the lives of his or her family and friends.