3 Things Psoriasis Sufferers Need To Know About Uveitis

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by the presence of itchy, scaly patches of skin. However, psoriasis doesn't just affect your skin; it also affects other parts of your body, ranging from your joints to your eyes. One of the eye conditions associated with psoriasis is uveitis. Here are three things psoriasis sufferers need to know about uveitis.

What is uveitis?

Uveitis refers to inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, the uvea. The uvea consists of the iris, the ciliary body and the choroid. The uvea's role is to reduce the light that is reflected within the eye, which improves the contrast of the images you see.

When this essential tissue becomes inflamed, one or both of your eyes will become red and sore. You'll also notice vision changes, ranging from the appearance of floaters to blurred or decreased vision. The condition may get worse quickly, so if you develop eye pain, see your optometrist immediately. Untreated, uveitis can lead to permanent vision loss, so don't delay treatment.

How does psoriasis cause it?

Doctors still aren't sure how psoriasis leads to uveitis, only that it does. This condition affects between 7% and 20% of people with psoriasis, according to studies.

While the link between psoriasis and uveitis is still a mystery, researchers have many theories. One theory is that the systemic inflammation caused by psoriasis may break down the barrier between your blood and your aqueous humor (the fluid behind your cornea). Another theory is that neutrophils, a type of immune system cell, become activated and attack the uvea.

How is uveitis treated?

If you develop uveitis, your optometrist will need to reduce the inflammation in your uvea before your vision can be permanently damaged. This can be done with corticosteroids like prednisone. While steroids can reduce inflammation and help save your vision, their side effects include serious eye conditions like cataracts and glaucoma. If you're prescribed steroids, your optometrist will need to monitor your eyes closely to make sure that you're not developing these serious eye complications.

Systemic treatments for psoriasis can also help treat your uveitis, so your optometrist may refer you to a rheumatologist for further treatment. These systemic treatments include immunosuppressants like cyclosporine or anti-inflammatories like methotrexate.

If you have psoriasis, you need to stay alert for eye symptoms like pain or vision changes. These symptoms may mean that you have uveitis, a sight-threatening, yet treatable condition. For more information, see an optometrist in your area.