What is uveitis?
Uveitis is inflammation inside the eye. Inflammation can occur in the front of the eye (anterior uveitis), back of the eye (posterior uveitis) or front and back of the eye (panuveitis). Inflammation that affects the back of the eye often causes retinal detachment.
What are the causes of uveitis?
There are many causes of uveitis in animals, but the main categories are infections, immune-mediated diseases, and certain types of cancers. Infections can be viral, bacterial, fungal, protozoal or algal. Cancerous causes include any primary tumor or the eye or tumor that has spread to the eye from other places of the body, such as melanoma, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and histiocytic sarcoma. Immune-mediated disease is the most common cause of uveitis in dogs and cats, but is a diagnosis of exclusion. We cannot directly test for immune-mediated disease, but diagnose it when tests for infections and cancers are negative.
What are the signs of uveitis?
The signs of uveitis are varied. In regards to the eye, uveitis can cause redness, cloudiness, squinting, tearing, photophobia and blindness. Since uveitis also can occur with systemic disease, your pet may have a fever or not feel well, which is usually manifested by decreased eating and drinking and/or lethargy. Other signs can include lymph node enlargement, skin lesions, lameness or coughing.
How is uveitis treated?
Treatment for uveitis is highly dependent on determining the underlying cause. For infections, we have to identify and treat the infection. For cancers, eye removal surgery or chemotherapy is necessary. Immune-mediated diseases require topical or systemic immunosuppression with steroids or other medications. In almost all cases, topical anti-inflammatories are necessary for the eye. The prognosis varies based on the cause and severity of the uveitis.