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Uveitis Overview

Uveitis is an inflammation of the uveal tract, the part of the eye that supplies blood. There are many reasons why the uveal tract can become inflamed, including extended contact lens wear, infections, autoimmune diseases, and trauma. In many cases, the cause of uveitis is unknown .

The symptoms of uveitis depend on where the uveal tract first became inflamed.

  • Anterior uveitis – inflammation of the area around the iris – usually includes redness, eye pain, tearing, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision. 
  • Posterior uveitis – inflammation toward the middle and back of the eye including the ciliary body or the retina. This may or may not be painful, but typically can be more serious.
  • Panuveitis – inflammation of both the anterior and posterior uvea.

Uveitis needs to be promptly treated with topical and/or oral steroids to avoid vision-threatening complications. In some instances, a complete exam is needed to discover the cause of the uveitis and the underlying cause must be treated to prevent it from recurring.

Uveitis Diagnosis

In order to rule out other causes of a red eye and to determine the extent of the uveitis, a complete ocular exam including dilation is necessary.

Once your ophthalmologist diagnoses the uveitis, he or she may perform additional tests to determine its cause.

Uveitis Treatment

The easiest and best way to treat uveitis is with topical steroid eye drops. These drops typically are used for several weeks. Sometimes oral steroids may be needed to treat uveitis. It is important that patients taking steroids visit their doctor frequently because steroids can cause glaucoma and cataracts. 

Some patients also may receive a drop that will dilate their pupils and keep the iris in one place, which is more comfortable. These drops, however, may temporarily increase focusing problems and cause light sensitivity.

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Last reviewed by a UPMC medical professional on 2023-04-19.