The iris, the ciliary body and the choroid are the three components that make up the uvea of your dog’s eye. With uveitis, one or more of these components becomes inflamed. Depending on which pieces are involved, the condition may be referred to as anterior uveitis, posterior uveitis or pan-uveitis. Typically, uveitis is a symptom of an underlying medical condition. The one exception is immune-mediated uveitis. Treatment for uveitis focuses on reducing inflammation in the eye and treating the underlying medical condition.
Anti-Inflammatories and Topical Treatments
Initial treatment focuses on reducing the pressure, pain and inflammation in the eye. Topical anti-inflammatories and corticosteroids applied directly to the eye help to reduce inflammation. Oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, given orally also help reduce internal inflammation. Atropine is administered to dilute the pupil and reduce pressure.
Tick-borne bacterial diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and bacterial conditions such as leptospirosis, contribute to uveitis in dogs. When the veterinarian determines that the underlying medical condition is bacterial in nature, he will typically prescribe a course of antibiotics. As the antibiotics destroy the bacteria, symptoms clear up.
Infections caused by fungus, such as coccidioidomycosis, cryptococcosis, histoplasmosis and candidiasis, often cause uveitis in dogs. When fungal causes are diagnosed, anti-fungal drugs combat the infection; in time, symptoms subside.
Ocular cancers, such as uveal melanoma or ciliary body adenoma or carcinoma, are another contributing condition to uveitis. Depending on the location and type of ocular tumor, surgical intervention is often necessary. Excision of the tumor alone is possible in some cases while others may require complete removal of the eye.
When no underlying medical conditions can be determined, the likely cause is immune-mediated and results in a diagnosis of uveodermatologic syndrome or lens-induced uveitis. In this case, the body’s immune system begins attacking healthy cells. In order to treat this, immunosuppressive drugs work to slow down the immune system response. While this reduces the uveitis, it also reduces your dog’s natural immune system, making him prone to other infections. Talk with your veterinarian regarding special precautions.