(Anterior Uveitis; Iritis; Iridocyclitis)
Pronounced: You-vee-eye-tisEn Español (Spanish Version)
Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea. The uvea is the middle layer of the eye (iris and surrounding tissue). It is between the retina and the white of the eye. Uveitis can be chronic (long-lasting) or acute (occurs suddenly). This is a potentially serious condition. It requires care from your doctor to prevent vision loss.
Normal Anatomy of the Eye
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Uveitis can be caused by a trauma to the eye. It can also be caused by an infection, such as:
The underlying cause is usually not known.
Uveitis may occur in people with other health problems and immune system diseases, such as
Uveitis can occur in children and adults. People who develop uveitis and ankylosing spondylitis often have a specific gene, HLA-B27.
If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to uveitis. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
- Red, sore, and watering eyes
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Pupil that is small or irregular in shape
Symptoms of Uveitis—Red, Sore, Watering Eyes
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Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. An eye exam will also be done. You may be referred to an eye specialist. This doctor will do a more extensive exam of the inside of your eye. Special equipment with bright light and magnification will be used.
Tests may include the following:
- Blood tests to look for other diseases or illnesses that may be associated with the uveitis
- Eye procedure to remove fluid and further diagnose the condition
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment will depend on your age, the cause, severity, and other factors. Treatment options include the following:
Medicines will be used to reduce inflammation and prevent damage. Medicine may be in the form of eye drops, pills, or injections into the eye, such as:
- Drugs that help reduce sensitivity to light and other complications
- Topical corticosteroids to help reduce inflammation—such as prednisolone acetate, fluorometholone acetate, dexamethasone , fluorometholone , prednisolone sodium phosphate, rimexolone (Vexol), or loteprednol (Lotemax)
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) to help reduce inflammation
- Antibiotics to treat bacterial infection
- Antivirals to treat viral infection
- Dilating drops (cycloplegics) to reduce pain and discomfort
In some cases, surgery or a special eye implant may be needed.
It is important to follow up with your doctor and watch for signs of recurrence.
Since the cause is often unknown, it is impossible to prevent a first episode of uveitis. To help reduce your chance of complications from uveitis or a recurrence, take the following steps:
- See your eye doctor right away if you have symptoms.
- Follow all treatment instructions.
- Wash hands regularly to prevent the spread of infection to the eye.
- To avoid infections, practice safe sex.
American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Uveitis Society
Uveitis Support Canada
American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: http://www.aao.org/ . Accessed March 17, 2010.
American Uveitis Society website. Available at: http://www.uveitissociety.org/ . Accessed March 17, 2010.
Anterior uveitis. American Optometric Association website. Available at: http://www.aoa.org/anterior-uveitis.xml . Accessed March 18, 2010.
Anterior uveitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated December 4, 2009. Accessed March 17, 2010.
Canadian Uveitis Society website. Available at: http://canadianuveitissociety.com/ . Accessed March 18, 2010.
Uveitis. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/uveitis/DS00677 . Accessed March 17, 2010.
Last reviewed June 2011 by Christopher Cheyer, MD
Last updated Updated: 6/6/2011
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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