Uveitis is a general term for eye inflammation that affects the middle layer of tissue in the eye wall (uvea). If left untreated, uveitis can cause permanent damage to the eyes. Although not a widely known eye condition, uveitis is one of the most common causes of blindness.
The University of Kansas Health System offers comprehensive ophthalmology services, and our eye care team includes uveitis specialists. We can address every aspect of your eye care, from annual eye exams to treatment for more serious eye conditions like uveitis.
What is uveitis?
Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea, the part of the eye that includes the iris (colored part of the eye), the ciliary body (a structure behind the iris) and the choroid (a layer of tissue at the back of the eye). The uvea is responsible for supplying the retina with blood. The retina is the part of the eye that receives images and transmits them to the brain.
The symptoms of uveitis can appear quite suddenly and often worsen rapidly. Uveitis is a serious eye condition that requires prompt treatment.
Types of uveitis
Your uveitis specialist will diagnose the type of uveitis symptoms you have based on the location of the inflammation:
- Anterior uveitis (iritis) affects the iris in the front of the eye
- Intermediate uveitis (cyclitis) affects the ciliary body
- Panuveitis (also known as diffuse uveitis) is when there is inflammation in all layers of the uvea
- Posterior uveitis (choroiditis and retinitis) affects the back of the eye (the choroid and/or retina)
Uveitis symptoms and risks
Symptoms of uveitis include:
- Blurry vision
- Eye redness and pain
- Floating spots on the eyes
- Light sensitivity
Although most cases of uveitis do not have a clear cause, some factors may contribute to developing uveitis symptoms:
- Autoimmune or inflammatory disorders
- Cancer that affects the eye, although this is rare
- Eye injuries, including eye surgery
Uveitis can also sometimes occur as a side effect of certain medications. There may also be a genetic factor associated with uveitis. Lifestyle choices, such as smoking, can also contribute to developing uveitis symptoms.
Uveitis diagnosis and screening
Uveitis can be identified during a regular eye exam. If your eye doctor suspects uveitis, then he or she will refer you to a uveitis specialist.
It’s important to accurately diagnose and promptly treat uveitis. Without the appropriate care, uveitis can cause additional complications:
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Doctors at The University of Kansas Health System are care providers and researchers at the forefront of new medical discoveries. From primary care to complex conditions, we offer hundreds of specialists.
The goal of uveitis treatment is to reduce inflammation, which can often be achieved with prescription eye drops. In some cases, you may need to continue this treatment for months or even years. Severe cases of uveitis may require oral medications or injections be prescribed as well.