Cat Got Your . . . Eye? What You Need to Know about Uveitis
Are you experiencing headaches? Chills? Decreased appetite? If these don’t sound like the possible side effects of a cat scratch, you’re in for a surprise. Whether your cat is feisty or not, sometimes its claws may get a little too long and an accidental scratch may occur. Cat scratch disease is an infectious disease that may lead to malaise, muscular pains, backaches, and even blindness.
It might seem minor, but unless properly cared for, a cat scratch that has broken the skin can begin to threaten the health of your eye developing into something called uveitis which can swiftly lead to blindness.
What is uveitis? Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea. The uvea is the middle layer of your eye the iris, ciliary body, and choroid that deals directly with blood flow and nourishment within your eye. If damaged, you can experience reduced vision or permanent blindness.
There are many causes and conditions that bring about uveitis. Diseases with major involvement in other body parts (i.e.tuberculosis, leukemia, and lymphoma) sometimes cause a person to develop uveitis. Common eye syndromes can factor in as well.
The most frightening thing about uveitis is that it can be brought about by the most surprising, seemingly minute conditions, including a cat scratch to any part of the body.
The symptoms of uveitis might be noticeable in one or both eyes. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms in order to receive prompt treatment. The symptoms include:
• Eye pain
• Eye redness
• Blurred vision
• Decreased vision
• Light sensitivity
• Irregular pupil shape
• Floaters (dark, floating spots in field of vision)
• Hypopyon (whitish area inside eye that develops in front of the iris)
• Photopsia (experiencing flashing lights in field of vision)
The locations of uveitis vary greatly. Usually, your case of uveitis is described by where it occurs, which could be in any of the following locations of your eye:
• Panuveitis: affects and inflames all layers of the uvea
• Anterior uveitis: affects front of eye
• Posterior uveitis: affects back of eye
• Intermediary uveitis: affects the ciliary body
No matter where the uveitis affects your eye, the vitreous (center of the eye) can also become inflamed with inflammatory cells and suffer from the effects as well. The symptoms of uveitis may occur suddenly and get worse quickly, or they may develop over a gradual period of time.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of uveitis, consult with a doctor immediately. In severe cases, you will probably be referred to an eye specialist – Dr. Grant.
Before a specialist begins working on your eye, he’ll probably use a fluorescence dye test to rule out any possible corneal ulcers. The next step of a typical treatment will involve steroids (eye drops or oral therapy). In severe cases, a patient might be injected to reduce swelling of eye.
The type of uveitis (duration, location, severity, and responsiveness to treatment) factors into whether or not the condition can be properly treated. As mentioned before, if left untreated, your eye could face serious complications, including
• Glaucoma (optic nerve damage that results in visual field loss)
• Cataracts (clouding of lens of eye, obstructs light)
• Macular Edema (distortion of central vision)
• Band keratopathy (pain and decreased visual acuity)
• Permanent blindness (moderate to severe)
Uveitis is most common between the ages of twenty and sixty affecting both men and women equally. Approximately 1 in 4500 people are affected by uveitis (it is responsible for 10-20% of blindness cases in the United States alone).
Whether or not a cat scratch seems mild, moderate, or severe, get the help you need before it impairs your vision. Although cat scratch disease (and its likelihood of developing into uveitis) may seem like one in a million, it has negatively affected a large amount of unsuspecting men and women.
What would you do without your eyes? How would it affect your life? Our eyes allow us to see and experience every single step of life. They give us the freedom to work, drive, cook, clean, and live without any assistance. Don’t cut your vision short by shirking off a cat scratch get treated today. Contact us.