Uveitis, inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, is a serious condition in children that can be difficult to diagnose and may lead to vision loss. Pediatric uveitis may not show symptoms until it has progressed significantly, and so it requires the attention and care of a highly experienced pediatric ophthalmologist like Dr. Lucas Bonafede at Fraser Eye Care in Detroit.
What is Uveitis?
Uveitis is not a singular condition, but is a term used to refer to a group of inflammatory diseases that most commonly affect the uvea, the center part of the eye. Uveitis can also affect the vitreous, lens, retina, and optic nerve.
There are different forms of uveitis, classified by the part of the eye that is affected:
- Anterior uveitis
- Intermediate uveitis
- Posterior uveitis
- Panuveitis uveitis
Uveitis may also be classified as infectious or noninfectious.
Uveitis is far more common in adults than in children, but pediatric uveitis is an especially challenging condition. Uveitis in children can be difficult to diagnose and treat, in part because it may not show symptoms, can be a chronic condition, and because it poses the risk of a lifetime of vision loss or blindness.
Causes of Uveitis
The most common cause of pediatric uveitis is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), an autoimmune disease that releases inflammatory chemicals into the body.
Other possible causes of uveitis in children include:
- Trauma or injury
- Tumors in the eye or in other parts of the body
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Uveitis
Pediatric uveitis is often asymptomatic, and in very young children parents may not even notice visual impairment until more pronounced symptoms like strabismus (crossed eyes) become apparent. This condition is often not discovered until a child undergoes an eye examination, which is why it is important to have childrens’ eyes examined by an experienced ophthalmologist like Dr. Bonafede.
To diagnose uveitis in a child, Dr. Bonafede may conduct the following tests:
- Visual acuity test or eye chart test
- Funduscopic examination under dilation
- Ocular pressure test
- Slit lamp examination
Dr. Bonafede understands that it can be difficult for children to undergo a thorough eye examination, and has a special gift for helping our youngest patients feel safe and comfortable in his care.
Treatment for Uveitis
Uveitis in children can have severe consequences, including vision loss from amblyopia, cataracts, and glaucoma. This is why prompt diagnosis and proper treatment is so crucial.
Treatment of uveitis in children may consist of either topical or injected corticosteroids. Intraocular pressure must be carefully monitored. Systemic steroids may be administered in brief courses in some cases. Both corticosteroids and systemic steroids can have adverse effects on a child’s development, so treatment needs to be carefully monitored.
Other drugs including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and immune modulating agents such as methotrexate may be used, especially if the source of uveitis is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.
Many children require combined evaluation and management with a pediatric rheumatologist.
Contact Fraser Eye Care
Pediatric uveitis is a serious condition that requires serious treatment by a highly experienced ophthalmologist like Dr. Lucas Bonafede of Fraser Eye Care in Detroit. If your child has been diagnosed with uveitis, please contact us today to schedule a consultation.
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1 National Eye Institute. Uveitis. Available: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/uveitis. Accessed September 22, 2021.
2 Wentworth BA, Freitas-Neto CA, Foster CS. Management of pediatric uveitis. F1000Prime Rep. 2014;6:41. Published 2014 Jun 2. doi:10.12703/P6-41. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4047950/. Accessed September 22, 2021.
3 Faia, L.J, Drenser, K.A. Pediatric Uveitis: Challenging for Ophthalmologists, Patients, and Parents. Retina Today. Available: https://retinatoday.com/articles/2017-oct/pediatric-uveitis-challenging-for-ophthalmologists-patients-and-parents. Accessed September 22, 2021.
4 Wentworth BA, Freitas-Neto CA, Foster CS. Management of pediatric uveitis. F1000Prime Rep. 2014;6:41. Published 2014 Jun 2. doi:10.12703/P6-41. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4047950/. Accessed September 22, 2021.
Dr. Lucas Bonafede has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.
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