Fighting Inflammation in the Eye - Your Guide to Healthy Vision
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Inflammation of the Eyes
Scientifically, an inflammation inside the eye is called uveitis. The uvea is the vascular or middle coat of the eyes which lies between the eyes’ outer coat (composed of the cornea) and sclera and their inner coat (that comprises of the retina). Uvea contains blood vessels that nourish the eye, pigments as well as connective tissues. When any structure in the uvea becomes inflamed (for instance, the iris, the ciliary body or the choroid), the condition is called uveitis. Inflammation can occur in the front of the eye- a less serious condition called iritis or in the intermediate or posterior parts of the eye. In case of intermediate uveitis, the inflammation occurs in the vitreous (part of the eye filled with fluid) whereas posterior uveitis- though very rare- may seriously affect the choroid or retina.
In uveitis, the patient may see ‘floaters’ or complain of blurred vision as well as light sensitivity and redness, which usually occurs only in one eye. Your ophthalmologist can see that the redness is usually just outside the cornea and detects cells floating in the anterior chamber. These are either white cells (inflammatory cells) that have leaked out of blood vessels or pigment from the iris.
The most frequent cause of uveitis/inflammation is trauma. Uveitis is usually self-limiting, although it should be treated to make the patient comfortable and to avoid future problems. If uveitis is a recurrent problem, for instance, there are environmental or internal events that could worsen over the period of time. Calieye, located in Torrance, CA could assist in fighting against inflammation.
Another common cause of inflammation falls into a group called collagen vascular diseases, which are known to affect connective tissues throughout the body. Some prominent collagen vascular diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus and polyarteritis. Sarcoidosis, a disease of unknown cause that affects many organs (principally the lungs) and may involve the eyes, can also be one of the reasons of uveitis. Uveitis can also occur as a complication of AIDS. Many people with uveitis and a multisystem disease like sarcoidosis have dry eyes as well.
The conventional treatment of uveitis involves the prompt and intensive use of topical steroids. Steroids must be used initially to reduce the inflammation while your ophthalmologist is trying to determine a cause. There is often a lot of redness, light sensitivity and pain that your ophthalmologist may need to dilate the patient’s pupil and relax the ciliary body with long-acting dilating drugs. The effect of these drops may last up to four days, so the patient must be alerted that he or she will experience a little more glare, may not be able to read well and will have dilated pupils for that length of time. Cyclosporin eyedrops, which are generally used to stop corneal transplant rejection, can also be used to treat inflammation without the side effects of steroids.
Uveitis is short-lived in people who have suffered trauma, but it may recur when it is due to other causes. However, be sure to eliminate the possibility of the intraocular infection called endophthalmitis. Endophthalmitis is characterized by rapid vision loss, pain and debris in the eye. Treatment with drops and pills is ineffective in this massive type of infection. The current therapy is an injection of a fortified antibiotic directly into the eye, though the results of surgical intervention are no better than this direct antibiotic therapy. Endophthalmitis is a major complication of intraocular surgery that occurs in less than one in 1,000 cases and is rarely encountered. It can also occur in orbit or systemic infections.
When people require long-term treatment for uveitis, there are serious questions about the long-term use of steroids to treat it. While the use of steroids for a long period of time may help in retaining vision in people having this condition, it can also lead to the development of complications like cataracts or glaucoma. However, many alternative remedies have been devised that has been able to reduce these patients’ steroid use by treating them with herbal medications and dietary supplements. These have helped countless people.
Some of the recommendations include-
- Consume daily Multivitamin- Along with conventional treatment, patients may intake Vitamin C and E to reduce symptoms of the anterior uveitis.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids have been known to improve the functioning of immune systems and reduce inflammation in the eyes.
- Other supplements like Lutein, leafy vegetables, tomatoes, blueberries and any other diet rich in antioxidants should be preferred.
- Research also indicates that the antioxidants in turmeric are helpful in fighting chronic uveitis. Ideally, one could take a standardized extract of 300 mg supplements of turmeric three times a day.
Like other chronic conditions, eye diseases like inflammation must not be treated in isolation but should be addressed in a broader framework that includes diet, lifestyle and increased health care options.