Uveitis vs conjunctivitis may look similar in some symptoms like redness of the eyes, itching and pain in the eye. They are both caused by inflammation but they are not the same. Most people confuse uveitis to be conjunctivitis especially in the early stage, so it is important to know about both so that you can easily know the differences.
You may ask yourself why it is important to know the difference between these eye inflammation. The importance or reason is that uveitis can cause loss of vision if it is not detected and treated on time. There are also complications associated with conjunctivitis as well. In this article, we will explain the major differences between uveitis and conjunctivitis, and how to treat them as well.
WHAT IS UVEITIS?
Uveitis is an inflammation of the uvea and other surrounding part of the inner eye. The uvea is made up of tissues in the wall of the eye, it is found in the middle layer of the eye. There are many functions of this layer which includes taking in light and focusing it as well to produce images. There are many parts of the uvea like the iris, the choroid and the cillary body. The iris is the colored part of the eye that surrounds the pupil, it allows light to enter into the eye.
The choroid contains blood vessels and connective tissues, it is also responsible for supplying about 85% of blood flow in the eye. The cillary body is a circle of muscle that is found behind the iris, it is responsible for producing the fluid in the eye. When there is an inflammation of any of these structures, then it is uveitis. It can affect either on eye or both. According to the National Eye Institute, uveitis is mainly seen in people between the ages of 20 to 60 although anyone can experience the eye condition.
WHAT IS CONJUNCTIVITIS?
Conjunctivitis or pink eye is an inflammation that affects the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a thin membrane or tissue that lines the inside of the eye and covers the white part of the eye (sclera). It protects the eye from foreign materials and also maintain the tear film. Conjunctivitis is very common that people especially children get it a lot. It is easily spread from person to person but it is rarely serious or cause serious complications. It can quickly clear away especially if you do the recommended things to treat it and prevent its spread.
UVEITIS VS CONJUCTIVITIS : TYPES AND DIFFERENCES
1. Anterior Uveitis
This is the most common type of uveitis, it is also known as iritis. This is the inflammation of the iris, it affects the white blood cells and fibrin which are in the front part of the eye. You quickly experience pain and other symptoms of this type of uveitis than others.
2. Intermediate Uveitis
This is an inflammation of the retina the blood vessels found behind the lens (pars plana) and the gel found in the center of the eye. When the underlying cause of this inflammation is not known, it is pars planitis.
3. Posterior Uveitis
Posterior uveitis affects the choroid which is known as the back of the uvea. Sometimes, this inflammation can affect the retina and optic nerve.
Panuveitis is an inflammation of all parts of the uvea. It can affect the iris, choroid and cillary body at the same time. It can also have impact on other areas of the eye like the retina, optic nerve, lens and vitreous humor. This type can easily reduce vision and cause blindness.
Types of conjunctivitis
1. Viral Conjunctivitis
This is the commonest type of conjunctivitis, it is caused by virus. The inflammation usually start with one eye, causing water and tear discharge. In some days, the inflammation will affect the other eye as well. Viral conjunctivitis is mostly spread in schools and crowded places. This virus is similar to the one that causes common cold, sore throat or runny nose.
2. Bacterial Conjunctivitis
This is caused by bacteria, it can affect one eye or both eyes. One common thing with this type of conjuctivitis is that you will have sticky pus coming out from your eye. The bacteria that causes conjuctivitis can also cause strep throat.
3. Allergic Conjunctivitis
This is caused by allergic reaction to pollen, smoke, animal fur, pool chlorine or other substances. You will experience itching in your eyes, tears and your eyelid may swell up. Allergic conjunctivitis cannot be spread from person to person.
4. Ophthalmia Neonatorum
This affects only newborns, it is an infection that occur within the first 30 days of birth. The baby can get it during birth by coming in contact with the mother’s birth canal that have sexually transmitted disease either caused by virus, bacteria or chlamydia.
5. Giant Papillary
This is type of conjunctivitis that is caused by the use of eye contacts or artificial eyes for a long time. Wearing these for long time can cause the eye to become irritated, swollen and red.
UVEITIS VS CONJUCTIVITIS: Symptoms
Symptoms of uveitis are:
- Pain in the eye
- Redness of the eye
- Sensitivity to light
- Difficulty in seeing colors
- Blurry vision
- Feeling of small spots or clouds floating in the eyes.
Symptoms of conjunctivitis are:
- Redness of the white part of the eye
- The conjunctiva becomes swollen
- White or green discharge from the eye
- Sticky pus that crusts over the eyelid and makes it difficult to open the eyes especially after sleeping
- Itchy eye
- Burning sensation in the eye
- Blurry vision
- The lymph nodes becomes swollen especially if the conjunctivitis is caused by a virus
- Teary eyes
- Sensitivity to light.
UVEITIS VS CONJUCTIVITIS: Causes
Causes of Uveitis are:
According to Medical New Today, uveitis can be cause by viral, bacterial or parasitic infections like:
- Herpes simplex
- HIV and AIDS
- Lyme disease
Sometimes, the immune system fights healthy cells in the body, this leads to inflammatory disorders. Injury or trauma to the eyes can lead to uveitis. Also exposing the eye to harsh chemical can also cause or increase the risk of developing uveitis.
Some autoimmune diseases that can cause uveitis or increase its risk of developing are:
- Crohn’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Ulcerative colitis
- Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada (VKH) disease
Causes of conjunctivitis
Some common causes of conjunctivitis are:
- Allergies like animal fur, pollen, dust or smoke.
- Wearing contact lenses or artificial eyes for a long time
- Harsh chemicals like shampoo or pool chlorine
- Reaction to eye drops or ointments
- Sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia. These diseases can also cause conjunctivitis in newborns.
UVEITIS VS CONJUNCTIVITIS: DIAGNOSIS
Diagnosis for uveitis:
Your doctor can apply some eyedrops to dilate or widen the pupil, this will help him to thoroughly check your eyes. The physical examination may include checking the outside of the eye for injuries. You will be asked of your medical history, this is to know if your uveitis is caused by diseases. Ocular pressure test will be done, this test is to measure the pressure of the fluid in your eyes. A visual acuity test will be conducted to check how clearly you can see.
This test is done by using a chart with symbols and letters while the patient stands at a distance to read them out. Visual field test is also necessary to check your peripheral vision. This is commonly done of you have panuveitis. A special slit lamp will be used to look into the eyes. This will help to detect if there are white blood cells in the vitreous humor or anterior chamber. In severe cases, you may be sent to a uveitis specialist for further examinations.
Diagnosis for Conjunctivitis
It is best to see a doctor if you experience the symptoms of conjunctivitis. Your red eye may be caused by other eye diseases. Your doctor will ask of the symptoms you feel and conduct examinations on your eyes. A cotton swab will be used to collect sample of the fluid or pus from your eye, this sample will be sent to the lab to detect if the eye inflammation is caused by a virus, bacteria or by a sexually transmitted disease.
UVEITIS VS CONJUCTIVITIS : Treatment
Treatment for Uveitis
It is very important to get treatment if you have uveitis, if left untreated, the result can be glaucoma, cataracts or loss of vision.
Treatment for uveitis include:
The use of corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation, pain and swelling. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology,, this treatment method is common. The drug can be in form of pills to be taken orally, injections to be used in or around the eyes, topical creams and a surgical implant that releases the drug from time to time.
Immunomodulator therapy – Drugs that reduce the activities of the immune system response. This is used especially if the eye inflammation is caused by autoimmune diseases. Eye drops that reduces the pressure on the eyes. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve the pain and swelling. Antiviral or antibacterial medications to fight viruses and bacteria.
Treatment for Conjunctivitis
Treating conjunctivitis depends on the cause, the following methods can be used:
- Viral Conjunctivitis: Antiviral pills, ointments and eye drops can be used to treat this type of conjunctivitis.
- Bacterial Conjunctivitis: Oral antibiotics will be used to treat the bacteria while eye drops and ointments can be used to clear the redness and other symptoms. You may have to use the eye drops and ointments at least 3 or 4 times a day for about 5 to 7 days.
- Irritants: If your conjunctivitis is caused by harsh chemicals or long use of contact, you should wash your eyes with clean water for 5 minutes, you should get relieve in 4 hours. If symptoms persist, you should see your doctor.
- Allergies Conjuctivitis: The first step is to treat the allergy and the trigger as well. You can use antihistamines either in drops or oral form to reduce the symptoms.
SCLERITIS VS UVEITIS VS CONJUNCTIVITIS
These three eye diseases are very different. One common difference between them is that scleritis causes extreme pain more than the other eye inflammations. Also, there is no discharge in both uveitis and scleritis but conjunctivitis causes the eye to produce discharge and pus. Scleritis affects the sclera (which is the white outer layer of the eye), uveitis affects the uvea tract while conjuctivitis affects the conjuctiva.
Uveitis and conjunctivitis are sometimes used interchangeably but they are not the same. They have different causes, treatment methods but somehow similar symptoms. If you notice your eyes becoming red or having any of the symptoms above, you should see a doctor for diagnosis because most eye inflammation have similar symptoms.