Q My friend thought she had con­junc­tivi­tis, but it was ac­tu­ally uveitis. What’s the dif­fer­ence?

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Short Story By Teresa Ashby -

A The con­junc­tiva is the thin trans­par­ent mem­brane cov­er­ing the front of the eye. It’s very sen­si­tive and warns/de­fends our eyes against ex­ter­nal threats; blink­ing spreads tears to clean and lu­bri­cate it. Dust, al­ler­gens (pollen, pets), bac­te­rial/virus in­fec­tions, and dry eyes can pro­duce gen­er­alised pinky red­ness, wa­ter­ing, a yel­lowy dis­charge and/or itch­ing/ ir­ri­ta­tion, with blurred vi­sion that can be blinked away. Con­junc­tivi­tis can be treated with eye-drops from your phar­macy if nec­es­sary. How­ever, con­junc­ti­val scratches and ul­cers pro­duce se­vere pain, and need im­me­di­ate med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

Uveitis means in­flam­ma­tion of deeper tis­sues in and around the iris (coloured part of the eye). It pro­duces se­vere pain, and light in­tol­er­ance, with dif­fi­culty open­ing the eye, which wa­ters pro­fusely. The black pupil shrinks, blurred vi­sion won’t clear, and you may have a headache. Uveitis can be re­cur­rent or af­fect both eyes, and can be trig­gered by im­mune-sys­tem dis­or­ders, in­fec­tions, trauma and other con­di­tions; it may pen­e­trate deeper tis­sues and put sight at risk. So your GP or emer­gency department would re­fer you im­me­di­ately to an eye spe­cial­ist for tests and treat­ment, usu­ally steroidal med­i­ca­tion and/ or anti-in­flam­ma­tory eye-drops, and fol­low-up.

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