Autoimmune Disease

Uveitis

Uveitis is swelling and irritation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye. The uvea provides most of the blood supply to the retina.

Causes

Uveitis can be caused by autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis, infection, or exposure to toxins. However, in many cases the cause is unknown.

The most common form of uveitis is anterior uveitis, which involves inflammation in the front part of the eye. It is often called iritis because it usually only affects the iris, the colored part of the eye. The inflammation may be associated with autoimmune diseases, but most cases occur in healthy people. The disorder may affect only one eye. It is most common in young and middle-aged people.

Posterior uveitis affects the back part of the uvea, and involves primarily the choroid, a layer of blood vessels and connective tissue in the middle part of the eye. This type of uveitis is called choroiditis. If the retina is also involved, it is called chorioretinitis. You may develop this condition if you have had a body-wide (systemic) infection or if you have an autoimmune disease.

Another form of uveitis is pars planitis. This inflammation affects the narrowed area (pars plana) between the colored part of the eye (iris) and the choroid. Pars planitis usually occurs in young men and is generally not associated with any other disease. However, some evidence suggests it may be linked to Crohn's disease and possibly multiple sclerosis.

SOURCE: MedlinePlus- A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine & National Institutes of Health

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March is Autoimmune Disease
Awareness Month!

Autoimmune diseases result from a dysfunction of the immune system. The immune system protects you from disease and infection. Sometimes, though, the immune system can produce autoantibodies that attack healthy cells, tissues, and organs. This can lead to autoimmune disease.

Autoimmune diseases can affect any part of the body. More than 80 autoimmune diseases have been identified. Some are relatively well known, such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis, while others are rare and difficult to diagnose.

Collectively, autoimmune diseases are among the most prevalent diseases in the U.S., affecting more than 23.5 million Americans. They are more common among women, and while some are more prevalent among white people, others are more common among African-Americans and Hispanics. Autoimmune diseases are becoming increasingly prevalent, for reasons unknown.

Some autoimmune diseases are life-threatening, and most are debilitating and require a lifetime of treatment. There are treatments available to reduce the symptoms and effects from many autoimmune diseases, but cures have yet to be discovered. Since most autoimmune diseases are rare, patients can often spend years seeking a proper diagnosis.

Learn more about autoimmune diseases here.