Uveitis Vs Conjunctivitis

Understand Uveitis Vs Conjunctivitis

Uveitis vs conjunctivitis are both eye diseases characterized by redness of the eye, burning eyes, and a series of blurred vision. However, uveitis is more harmful than conjunctivitis as it can cause permanent vision loss in a patient if not early diagnosed and treated.

Conjunctivitis, even though it's highly contagious and can become sight-threatening in some cases, is not a serious health risk like uveitis. Many times, the disorder only requires good maintenance of hygiene for one to enjoy optimum eye health. And sometimes, its signs and symptoms disappear without any treatment.

Below is a summary of each eye disorder, their different symptoms, and differences between both diseases.

What is Uveitis?

Uveitis is a generic term, often used to describe a wide range of problems found in a patient's eye. And in a great number of these challenges, many patients usually show signs of acute eye inflammation and swelling that destroys their eye tissues. Sometimes, the destruction can cause poor vision on both eyes and blindness in a person.

In essence, the word "uveitis" is frequently used because the swelling most of the time attacks the middle coating of the eye known as The Uvea. Uveitis occurs when the middle layer of the eyeball becomes inflamed (swollen and red). The layer has an array of blood vessels that nourishes and keeps the eye healthy.

The real cause of uveitis is not well known, however, most health experts agree it has something to do with a more recent eye injury or some illness. Thus people who are at a higher risk of contracting uveitis include those suffering from a virus like syphilis, herpes, shingles and more. Also, patients suffering from Lyme disease or an attack by a parasite, such as a toxoplasmosis, risk catching uveitis.

Other secondary factors that may contribute to the spread of uveitis include self-induced habits such as smoking and a series of systemic inflammatory diseases, like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Some of the most common symptoms found in patients include eye redness, blurry vision, high sensitivity to bright light, and seeing floaters. All the same, a patient should contact his or her ophthalmologist right away if they experience any of these symptoms. Also, quick diagnosis and treatment can help save a patient's vision.

What is Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis, also referred to as pinkeye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the outermost coating of the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelid. Many times, pinkeye occurs because of the presence of a virus and bacteria in a person's body. The disease can also occur due to exposure to irritants such as dirt, smoke, shampoos, and pool chlorine. Individuals who experience allergies from dust and pollen are also at a high risk of contracting conjunctivitis.

Also worth knowing, pinkeye caused by viruses and some bacteria can easily spread from one person to another. And it’s not usually a serious health risk if early detected and treated. However, conjunctivitis found in newborns should be reported to a physician immediately, as it could be a fatal attack from a sight-threatening infection.

Patients with conjunctivitis often experience redness in the white part of the eye or inner eyelid, burning and watery eyes, severe scratchiness, increased sensitivity to light, and episodes of blurred vision. Some people may also experience white, green, or yellow discharge that usually crusts on the eyelashes after sleep.

People should visit a doctor right away if they experience any of these symptoms. Many times, the ophthalmologist may use a cotton swab to collect a sample of fluid from the eyelid for examination in a lab. This allows the real cause of the problem to be known and effective treatment prescribed.

What's the Difference Between Uveitis and Conjunctivitis?

Both uveitis and conjunctivitis eye disorders look alike and even share the same signs and symptoms. However, many times, uveitis usually occurs in patients suffering from an eye injury or some illness. Conjunctivitis, on the other hand, seems prevalent in patients who don't observe or practice proper hygiene habits.

Uveitis also has the tendency of attacking a person's eye from the eye's middle layer, while conjunctivitis usually attacks the outermost layer of the white part of the eye. It also affects the inner surface of a person’s eyelid, which causes acute eye redness and amongst other symptoms.

Moreover, uveitis seems more potentially harmful than conjunctivitis because if not early diagnosed and treated it can cause permanent blindness. Conjunctivitis, even though it's highly contagious, it isn't such a big threat and can clear on its own without any treatment. However, the disease can become fatal if found in newborn babies and hence may need immediate medical care.

In summary, uveitis and conjunctivitis are both eye disorders that usually impair or alter a person's vision. They both share similar signs and symptoms, although uveitis is much more severe than conjunctivitis since it can lead to permanent vision loss in a patient. Conjunctivitis isn't vision-threatening as such, but a person has to observe proper hygiene to keep their eye healthy.

Nevertheless, if a person notices any warning signs and symptoms of the two diseases, the eye doctor should be consulted right away. The faster a person checks with their ophthalmologist, the more they're likely to achieve full eye recovery.

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Last Reviewed:
July 17, 2017
Last Updated:
October 25, 2017