Uveitis (u-ve-I-tis) is inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye. The uvea consists of the iris, choroid and ciliary body. The choroid is sandwiched between the retina and the white of the eye (sclera), and it provides blood flow to the deep layers of the retina. The most common type of uveitis is an inflammation of the iris called iritis (anterior uveitis).
Infections, injury and autoimmune disorders may be associated with the development of uveitis, though the exact cause is often unknown.
Uveitis can be serious, leading to permanent vision loss. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent the complications of uveitis.
Eye with uvea
The uvea consists of the layer and structures of the eye beneath the white of the eye (sclera). It has three parts: (1) the iris, which is the colored part of the eye; (2) the choroid layer, which is ...
The signs, symptoms and characteristics of uveitis include:
The site of uveitis varies and is described by where in the eye it occurs.
In any of these conditions, the jelly-like material in the center of your eye (vitreous) can also become inflamed and infiltrated with inflammatory cells.
Symptoms may occur suddenly and get worse quickly, though in some cases, symptoms develop gradually. Symptoms may be noticeable in one or both eyes.
When to see a doctor
Sometimes, the specific cause of uveitis isn't clear. However, in some people, uveitis is associated with:
Possible risk factors for uveitis include:
Left untreated, uveitis can cause the following complications:
Preparing for your appointment
Your symptoms may prompt you to make an appointment with your family doctor or general practitioner. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in disorders of the eyes (ophthalmologist).
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Preparing a list of questions can help cover all of the points that are important to you. For uveitis, some basic questions to ask include:
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
When you visit an eye specialist (ophthalmologist), your doctor will likely conduct a complete eye exam and gather a thorough health history.
If the ophthalmologist suspects an underlying condition to be the cause of your uveitis, you may be referred to another doctor for a general medical examination and laboratory tests. Sometimes, it's difficult to find a specific cause for uveitis. However, your doctor will try to determine whether your uveitis has an infectious cause or results from some other disease.
Treatments and drugs
If uveitis is caused by an underlying condition, treatment will focus on that specific condition. The goal of treatment is to reduce the inflammation in your eye.
Treatment of uveitis may include:
The part of your eye affected by uveitis — either the front (anterior) or back (posterior) of the uvea — may determine how quickly your eye heals. Uveitis affecting the back of your eye tends to heal more slowly than uveitis in the front of the eye. Severe inflammation takes longer to clear up than mild inflammation does.
Uveitis can come back. Make an appointment with your doctor if any of your symptoms reappear after successful treatment.
Although some alternative medicine treatments have anti-inflammatory properties, they haven't been well-studied for the treatment of uveitis. Let your doctor know if you plan on using any alternative supplements or treatments, because some may interact with treatments you're receiving or cause adverse reactions.
Last Updated: 2012-05-09
© 1998-2016 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "Mayo Clinic Health Information," "Reliable information for a healthier life" and the triple-shield Mayo logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
Terms and conditions of use