The uvea, the intermediate layer of the eye wall that plays a major role in both blood flow and ocular inflammation.
The uvea includes the iris, ciliary body and choroid, intermediate layers of the structure of the eye that mainly suffer inflammation (uveitis), often related with systemic diseases (in the area of internal medicine and rheumatology). Ophthalmic oncology primarily treats uveal tumours.
The iris is the “photographic” diaphragm of the eye, regulating the amount of light reaching the retina with its opening and closing movement. The ciliary body is the “factory” of the ocular fluid (aqueous humour) that regulates intraocular pressure and nutrition and respiration of the intraocular structures. It also contains the ciliary muscle, which is responsible for focusing on near images (which loses its function with eye fatigue or long-sightedness). The choroid is the pigmented layer that turns the eye into a “dark chamber”. By absorbing the reflected light, it allows the image to be clearly projected onto the retina.
When these structures become inflamed, uveitis occurs, which can cause serious loss of vision if not diagnosed on time and treated properly.
Some cases of uveitis develop within the eyeball itself. Others, however, are associated with general diseases and therefore this Unit needs to work closely with an Internal Medicine specialist who is experienced in such cases.
Certain tumours, such as melanoma, can start as primary cancer in any part of the uvea. Others can spread to the uvea as secondary cancer; these are called metastases. Uveal tumours are usually treated with radiotherapy or surgery.
The Uvea Unit is run by Dr Antonio Segura, from his position as Internal Medicine specialist with knowledge of general diseases that may be related to uveitis, and Dr Carme Macià, Dr José Ignacio Vela and Dr Marc Figueras, as ophthalmic analysts.