Definition

Uveitis is a generic term for inflammation of the uveal tract, which includes the iris, ciliary body, and choroid. By definition, uveitis is chronic when it persists longer than three months. Acute uveitis may vary in its course, resolving completely without recurrence, recurring intermittently, or evolving into chronic uveitis. The anterior part of the uveal tract includes the iris and ciliary body. In most cases of anterior uveitis (also called iridocyclitis), inflammation is present at both of these sites. Iritis refers to inflammation of the iris alone and occurs only rarely. Among the patterns of anterior uveitis, the granulomatous type is characterized by large keratic precipitates (KP) on the corneal epithelium (Fig. 1A), while the nongranulomatous variety is associated with smaller KP, if they are noted at all. Intermediate uveitis principally affects the ciliary body, peripheral choroid, and retina, and uniformly is accompanied by cells or aggregates of cells in the anterior vitreous (called snowballs or snow banks) (Fig. 1B). Posterior uveitis refers to inflammation of the choroid and generally includes retinal inflammation (chorioretinitis or retinochoroiditis). Panuveitis refers to inflammation across all three of these areas. Inflammation of other ocular structures, such as the sclera, optic disc, and vitreous, is not uveitis, although they may be associated features of the same eye disease (1).

FIGURE 1 (A) Granulomatous anterior uveitis: Mutton-fat keratic precipitates (large) on the backside of the cornea and synechiae in a patient with sarcoidosis. (B) Intermediate uveitis: Snow bank and snow ball found at the periphery of the cornea in a patient with intermediate uveitis. (C) Recurrent toxoplasmosis: old and inactive pigmented retinal scars with cream-colored reactivation lesion at the edge. (D) Band keratopathy: corneal calcification in a patient with JRA. (E) Cystoid macular edema: CME imaged with OCT. Note cystic area in macula with thickened retina surrounding the macula. (F) Iris nodules: multiple iris nodules in a patient with sarcoidosis. Abbreviations: JRA, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis; CME, cystoid macular edema; OCT, ocular computerized tomography. Source: Courtesy of Dr. Glenn Jaffe, Duke University Eye Center.

FIGURE 1 (A) Granulomatous anterior uveitis: Mutton-fat keratic precipitates (large) on the backside of the cornea and synechiae in a patient with sarcoidosis. (B) Intermediate uveitis: Snow bank and snow ball found at the periphery of the cornea in a patient with intermediate uveitis. (C) Recurrent toxoplasmosis: old and inactive pigmented retinal scars with cream-colored reactivation lesion at the edge. (D) Band keratopathy: corneal calcification in a patient with JRA. (E) Cystoid macular edema: CME imaged with OCT. Note cystic area in macula with thickened retina surrounding the macula. (F) Iris nodules: multiple iris nodules in a patient with sarcoidosis. Abbreviations: JRA, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis; CME, cystoid macular edema; OCT, ocular computerized tomography. Source: Courtesy of Dr. Glenn Jaffe, Duke University Eye Center.

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