Retinal Inflammatory Disease

Retinal inflammatory disease, also known as posterior uveitis, is an umbrella term that includes a number of conditions that can cause swelling and damage to the structures of the retina. The retina is a thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye. It is responsible for converting light rays into electrical signals that travel through the optic nerve to the brain.

Retinal inflammatory disease may result from a problem that is specific to the eyes or be a symptom of a systemic disease that affects various parts of the body. This condition can occur in people at any age, but is most common in those between the ages of 20 and 60. Depending on the underlying cause, retinal inflammatory disease can resolve quickly or it may linger and become a chronic or recurring issue. It generally produces vision problems and in some cases, it may result in substantial vision loss.

There are a range of possible causes of retinal inflammatory disease. Some of the most frequently found causes include an autoimmune disorder, infection in the eye, tumor in or near the eye, trauma to the eye and exposure to certain toxins. However, for some patients a cause cannot be determined.

Symptoms of Retinal Inflammatory Disease

The symptoms of retinal inflammatory disease can vary from patient to patient but may include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Floaters in the eye
  • Eye pain
  • A sensitivity to light

These symptoms may occur in one or both eyes. It is important to seek medical treatment if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. If left untreated, some of the more severe forms of retinal inflammatory disease can result in permanent damage, including significant vision loss or blindness.

Diagnosis of Retinal Inflammatory Disease

To determine whether a patient’s vision problems are being caused by retinal inflammatory disease, the doctor will take a medical history and conduct an examination of the eyes. A complete exam will typically have multiple components, including:

  • Screening for visual acuity to measure whether any decrease in vision has occurred
  • A funduscopic exam in which eye drops are used to dilate the pupils in order to evaluate the rear portion of the eyes
  • Measurement of ocular pressure
  • A slit lamp exam to closely inspect the affected areas of the eyes

In some cases, further testing may be performed to confirm the diagnosis and attempt to determine the cause of the retinal inflammatory disease. This will often involve a blood test and possibly some type of imaging scan.

Treatment of Retinal Inflammatory Disease

Treatment of retinal inflammatory disease may vary depending on both its severity and underlying causes. In many cases, eye drops, oral medications or injections containing corticosteroids in or near the eyes are successful in reducing the swelling and pain caused by this condition. Other patients may require the surgical insertion of a tiny device in the eye that regularly releases anti-inflammatory medication. If an autoimmune disorder is responsible for the retinal inflammatory disease, immunosuppressive drugs may be the most effective form of treatment. After a thorough examination, the doctor will design a treatment plan that addresses the needs of that particular patient.