Uveitis Explained: Symptoms, Types, Causes, and Alternative Treatment

Uveitis is the 3rd leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide. It affects men and women equally and can happen at any age but mainly occurs in people between 20-60 years old.

In simple words, it is an inflammation of the eye, a particular part of the eye called the uveal tract. The uveal tract or simply uvea is the pigmented middle layer of the eyeball; it lies beneath the white part of the eye (sclera) and is made of iris, ciliary body, and choroid.

Every part of the uvea has its function. The iris regulates the amount of light that reaches the retina; the ciliary body produces aqueous humor (ocular fluid). The choroid provides the blood supply to the retina.

Identifying the eye segment primarily affected by uveitis will lead to different diagnoses and treatments. Some disorders appear exclusively on the specific part of the uveal tract.

In the following post, we will present you with the most important information about eye inflammation and some alternative treatments for uveitis, including acupuncture.

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Try the unique approach here at Makari Wellness. We offer an individual program for uveitis, depending on the patient’s condition and the severity of the symptoms.

A vision treatment program may include Family medical history, Micro 48 Acupuncture, Auricular Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, Supplements, and Eye exercises. Patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa, Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma, Diabetic Retinopathy, Dry Eyes, and many other eye conditions reported improved visual acuity and quality of life.

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What is Uveitis?

Uveitis is a general term used for the group of inflammatory conditions affecting the uveal tract. The disease produces swelling and the destruction of the eye tissue. Eventually, it can cause cataracts, glaucoma, detached retina, optic nerve damage, and possibly a permanent vision loss.

If left untreated, they can cause blindness.

Diagnosis of uveitis include looking at an eye chart, some blood tests, ocular pressure check with tonometer or tonopen, slit lamp exam (gives a 3D look at the different parts of the eye), and a fundoscopic exam (to inspect the back, inside part of the eye using ophthalmoscope).

Classification of Uveitis

There are several classifications of uveitis. One of the widely accepted is the classification that includes location, so we have:

  • Anterior uveitis is the most common form of uveitis that affects the uvea’s front part (the iris and the ciliary body). It includes iritis and iridocyclitis (an inflammation behind the lens).
  • Intermediate uveitis is the intraocular inflammation mainly focused on the vitreous (gel-like fluid filling the eye) and peripheral retina.
  • Posterior uveitis is the least common form. It includes choroiditis and chorioretinitis – an inflammation of both the retina and the choroid.
  • Pan-uveitis is the most severe form of uveitis when all 3 parts of the uveal tract are affected by inflammation. Behcet’s disease (a rare multisystem inflammatory disorder) is the most well-known form of pan-uveitis.

Classification by course include:

  • Self -limited (resolves without treatment)
  • Chronic
  • Recurrent (repeated)

In classification by onset, we have:

  • Sudden
  • Insidious

Classification by symmetry include:

  • Unilateral (affecting only one eye)
  • Bilateral (affecting both eyes)

Uveitis Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of uveitis depend on the type of tissue inflamed. Symptoms can develop rapidly or slowly and may include:

  • Redness of the eye/eyes with or without pain
  • Alteration in the iris’ color
  • Sensitivity to bright light (photophobia)
  • General vision problems, like blurred/cloudy vision
  • Floaters (dark floating spots in your vision field)
  • A small pupil
  • Headaches
  • A whitish spot on the lower part of the eye (hypopyon)

Uveitis Causes

The exact cause of the uveitis is unclear. However, inflammation is the natural response to the tissue damage, bacteria, viruses, and toxins present in the body. The inflammation produces redness, swelling, and heat to the affected area.

Uveitis causes can be divided into 3 groups. The first is autoimmune diseases, where your immune system attacks a specific part of your body, in this case, an eye.

The second one is a virus or bacteria present in the body. The third one is an eye injury, trauma, or toxins penetrating the eye.

Non-infectious causes (autoimmune diseases associated with uveitis) include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Psoriasis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Sarcoidosis

In some rare cases, lymphoma, cancer that affects the eye, can cause uveitis.

Infectious causes include:

  • AIDS
  • Herpes
  • West Nile virus
  • Syphilis
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Histoplasmosis

Uveitis Treatment

The goals of conventional uveitis treatment are eliminating inflammation, pain relief, and the prevention of further tissue damage. The treatments depend on the type of eye inflammation and the underlying autoimmune disease.

If there is an infection, antibiotics or antiviral medication will be used.

Usually, corticosteroid anti-inflammatory medications are also included in the treatment plan. They can be in the form of eye drops, tablets, drugs infused into the bloodstream intravenously, or an injection into the eye.

If there is an underlying autoimmune disease, you might need to treat it with immunosuppressant therapy to inhibit or prevent the immune system’s activity.

In some cases, you need to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In higher doses, they help in reducing inflammation and relieving pain.

Alternative Treatments for Uveitis

Uveitis alternative treatment includes Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is a collection of thousand years of medical practice experience.

TCM is based on the body’s balance, energy, and harmony. There are 2 central ideas behind it: Qi and Yin and Yang. Qi (chee) is life energy; it runs throughout your body along meridians (channels). Yin and Yang are complementary opposites and present the qualities of qi.

When sick, qi in the body is blocked, and the balance needs to be restored. TCM uses several practices for uveitis natural treatment, thus bringing your body into homeostasis (balance):

  • Acupuncture
  • Chinese herbs
  • Chinese nutrition and lifestyle

Acupuncture for Inflammation

Acupuncture is commonly accepted as one of the most successful alternative treatments for eye inflammation. It involves the insertion of fine needles into specific spots to promote the body’s self-healing.

It stimulates the production of the body’s own natural chemicals involved in pain relief and the reduction of inflammation. Treatment of uveitis aims to ease the symptoms, control the immune system, preserve/restore the vision, and improve life quality.

In acupuncture, eyes are connected with the liver, so the liver “opens to the eyes.” Practitioners often see the liver disharmonies manifesting as the inflammation of the eye.

The stimulation of many different local acupuncture points around the eyes can provide a natural cure for uveitis. Some of the most important are:

  • Chengqi lies directly below the pupil on the infraorbital ridge bone.
  • Tongziliao is located on the outer end of the eyebrows.
  • Yuyao is in the middle of the eyebrow in the hollow.
  • Zanzhu is located in the crease at the inner ends of the eyebrows.
  • Jingming is the point where the inner corner of the eye meets the nose.

Micro Acupuncture 48 is a relatively new acupuncture system involving 48 newly discovered acupuncture points located only in hands and feet. It is an ophthalmic form of acupuncture that is used for people with different eye conditions, such as uveitis.


Chinese Herbs for Inflammation

Herbal medicine has been used for centuries, with more than 300 herbs in common use. Herbs are classified using several different methods; the most famous include classification in terms of temperature and taste.

Temperature-related Four Natures include hot, warm, cool, cold (or neutral) herbs. Hot and warm herbs are used to treat cold diseases, while cool and cold herbs are used to treat heat diseases.

Five Flavors include acrid/pungent, sweet, bitter, sour, and salty herbs. A flavor implies specific properties of the herb alongside the presumed therapeutic “actions” of a substance.

A certified Chinese herbalist will use a holistic approach to create an individual program to reduce eye inflammation symptoms and strengthen the overall immune system. Natural remedies for uveitis are used in the form of teas, powders, herbal extracts, dried or fresh herbs, or pills.

Diverse parts of the plant with different properties are used to provide the best possible outcome.

For reducing the inflammation, the therapist may use:

  • Chrysanthemum flower
  • Turmeric root
  • Buddleia flower
  • Gentiana root
  • Elderberry
  • Eclipta
  • Dandelion root
  • Conch shell

For the blood congestion in uveitis:

  • Tien chi root
  • Red peony root
  • Bromelain
  • Salvia root
  • Persica seed

Chinese Nutrition and Lifestyle

Integrating the principles of Chinese dietetics into your daily life may benefit eye health and health in general. The aim is, of course, to balance Yin and Yang.

According to TCM, food has similar properties to Chinese herbs. In terms of temperature, food can be either warm, hot, cold, and cool. In terms of flavor, it can be spicy, sweet, salt, bitter, and salty. Each taste and temperature play different roles in different organs.

Goji berry contains a large amount of Vitamin C, Zeaxanthin, and Lutein which are powerful antioxidants beneficial for eye health.

Beef liver is high in Vitamin A (retinol) and Rhodopsin (protein), preventing eye dryness.

Oysters contain a naturally high dose of Iron, Omega 3 fatty acids, Calcium, Zinc, Vitamin C and B12, and many other vitamins and minerals. Zinc, together with Vitamin A, helps transmit the nerve impulses to the brain.

Adzuki beans are incredibly nutritious, rich in proteins, Calcium, Iron, Vitamin B. It can improve eye circulation.

Fish like salmon, tuna, herring, and mackerel are high in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids; vegans can use walnuts and flaxseeds instead.

Eggs and leafy green vegetables are rich in Lutein, which lowers the risk of developing cataracts as a complication of uveitis.

You can get help from a certified nutritionist to provide you a personalized meal plans to improve your eye condition.