What is uveitis?
The iris, ciliary body and choroid make up the uvea. Uveitis means inflammation of the uvea or vascular tissue inside the eye. Inflammation of the iris and the ciliary body is called anterior uveitis. Inflammation of the choroid is called posterior uveitis and inflammation of all three structures is called panuveitis.
What causes uveitis?
Several serious diseases such as those caused by the Feline Leukemia virus, Feline Immunodeficiency virus, Feline Infectious Peritonitis virus, Toxoplasma gondii, and cancer (lymphoma) may cause uveitis in the cat. These diseases may lead to serious disorders in other parts of the body or even result in death, therefore, early diagnosis may alert your veterinarian to other potential problems. However, in many cases, the cause of uveitis is never determined.
What are the signs of uveitis?
Uveitis may be difficult to recognize in cats. Owners often notice a red eye, a change in the color or cloudiness of the eye, squinting or other signs of pain, a dilated pupil, or loss of vision. In severe cases the front of the eye may fill with blood or fibrin. Your veterinarian may notice that your cat has uveitis on a routine health examination, without you having noticed prior problems.
How is uveitis diagnosed?
A veterinary ophthalmologist with specialized equipment can see changes inside the eye consistent with inflammation. A glaucoma test (intraocular pressure measurement) should be performed since many cats with uveitis have an abnormally high eye pressure (glaucoma). Blood and potentially urine samples should be collected and examined for evidence of infection with agents that are known to cause uveitis.
How is uveitis treated?
Uveitis can be difficult to treat, and often is a life-long condition that can only be controlled but not cured. Initial treatment consists of anti-inflammatory eye drops. If the results of diagnostic testing reveal a treatable infection such as Toxoplasmosis, then specific treatment is initiated. In severe cases of uveitis more intensive anti-inflammatory therapy may be necessary such as an injection near the eye and oral medications. If glaucoma is present, additional medication may be prescribed to lower the eye pressure.
What if the uveitis is not controlled?
Uncontrolled uveitis and glaucoma will result in vision loss and/or chronic pain. It is important to follow the recommended treatment and re-evaluation schedule, so that problems can be detected and treated early.
How often does my cat need to be re-examined?
Cats on long-term medication that have controlled uveitis should be examined 3-4 times a year. If the uveitis is poorly controlled, more frequent examinations may be recommended.