Uveitis Management: An Overview of Treatment Methods and Future Developments
In today’s world, with rapid movement towards technology, it is important to care for one’s eyesight. It is part of most of our daily requirements to be exposed to different forms of radiation. This article discusses the eye condition uveitis and its management. For a deeper comprehension of the subject, consider reading ahead.
Before diving into the topic, a brief introduction to uveitis, the uveal tract, and its functions is necessary. In its simplest terms, Uveitis is an immune response to foreign entities.
The immune system fights an infection in the eye, and, as a result, the inside gets swollen. The uveal tract in particular experiences inflammation. A person may experience Uveitis once, briefly, in their life, but it’s also possible for the condition to return or last for a longer duration.
Uveitis, when present for longer durations and left unattended, can affect other parts of the eye, and in serious cases, it can lead to vision loss. Ophthalmologists pinpoint symptoms such as eye redness, a tingling sensation, light sensitivity, and impaired vision as indicative of Uveitis.
The uveal tract has three components: the iris, the choroid, and the ciliary body. The iris is an eye muscle present around the cornea that regulates the amount of light entering it. The choroid contains the blood vessels for the eye, and the ciliary body houses the ring tissue. This ring tissue has two functions: it produces the clear fluid that is present in the gap between the cornea and the iris. Secondly, it changes the shape of your lens according to the particular situation of the individual’s view.
When researching any condition, researchers first try to find the causes to prevent the disease. Secondly, they develop treatment methods in accordance with it. But when studying uveitis, it has been identified that at most times it occurs in an idiopathic manner, i.e., undetermined by particular causes. This poses a problem for the development of treatment methods; however, ophthalmologists and researchers have overcome the obstacle.
The treatment methods for uveitis can be broadly classified into medications, surgical interventions, and therapeutic techniques.
The first category deals with using different medical agents that can reduce or cure the symptoms of uveitis. The different methods that fall into this category are:
Mydriatric agents are pharmaceutical products that help dilate the pupil by relaxing the eye muscles. Thus, they work on the reduction of symptoms. They also help reduce the pain caused by the inflammation. The mydriatric agents mostly stimulate the iris, which in turn helps dilate the pupils and reduce light sensitivity. When doing so, the mydriatric agents aim to keep the eye more comfortable.
Some types of mydriatrics include tropicamide, phenylephrine, cyclopentolate, homatropine, and so on. Different types function in different ways. For instance, tropicamide works only by relaxing the iris. They focus primarily on the muscles near the opening of the iris, and their function is to relax these muscles. Phenylephrine, on the other hand, dilates the iris, which, as mentioned earlier, in turn dilates the pupils. Based on the condition and severity, different kinds of medicine are employed in the treatment.
Mydriatric drugs also have side effects. One major side effect caused by them is blurred vision. This results from the relaxation of the eye muscles.
Cycloplegic agents are another group of medications that function well in curing uveitis. Cycloplegic agents often function along with mydriatric agents. However, their functions are different. Cycloplegic drugs reduce the accommodation capacity of the eye. That is, they inhibit its accommodation to render relaxation to the eye and reduce additional strain.
They accomplish this by blocking the muscarinic action of acetylcholine on the ciliary muscle receptors. When they do this, the stimulation on the iris is reduced, which, as a result, allows relaxation of the said accommodation.
Using Corticosteroids and Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) for Treatment
These medications are also employed in the treatment of uveitis. While corticosteroids play a major role, NSAIDs are used as supporting elements in combination with other methods, especially therapeutic methods.
The next category is surgical intervention. The methods that have been employed are listed below:
Sometimes, when prolonged uveitis exists, it can cause cataract growth in an individual. In such cases, the surgical approach, which is exclusive to cataracts due to uveitis, is carried out to retrieve the person’s sight. This cataract surgery differs from the normal surgery to remove cataracts resulting from natural causes such as old age.
Uveitis can cause glaucoma, which results from the prolonged inflammation affecting the optic nerve. Glaucoma that is caused by uveitis, however, can be treated, unlike glaucoma in general. This is done by treating the uveitis and then treating the internal optical pressure that is caused by the uveitis, which leads to the development of glaucoma.
Macular edema, Uveitic Choroidal, and Retinal Neovascularization:
Macular edema is yet another reason for vision loss in patients with uveitis, and this too, like glaucoma, has a two-point treatment. While treating macular edema, the internal ocular pressure caused by inflammation must also be reduced. Other surgical interventions include uveitic choroidal and retinal neovascularization.
The final category includes therapeutic approaches. One major therapeutic technique is immunomodulatory therapy (IMT). Immunomodulatory therapy’s major purpose is to treat non-infectious uveitis. A non-infectious uveitis is something that arises from anything other than infecting agents such as bacteria or viruses. Immunomodulatory therapy too includes medications, but it tries to avoid corticosteroids and mydriatric side effects too.
Future Developments in the Treatment of Uveitis
Extensive research is undertaken by ophthalmologists and research scientists to prevent vision loss due to glaucoma. Some of their areas of focus include advanced technology for diagnosis, organic therapeutic methods, and better medications and drugs. In some cases, they combine the areas, as in enhancing the medications with the help of technology, to produce effective and lasting results. The therapeutic methods under study include a) recombinant IL-10 and b) recombinant IFN. This brings us to the end of the article on uveitis. It is important to have an increased awareness of such conditions in order to care for one’s eye health. Vision is indeed an important essence of life.