Tired woman in office massaging eyes
Tired woman in office massaging eyes


Uveitis is an inflammation of the uvea (or uveal layer)—the middle of the three layers that make up the eye. Inflammation usually occurs when your body is fighting an infection. It is a treatable condition; however, without proper treatment, it can cause vision loss.

The uvea is the middle layer of the eye between the sclera (the white part of the eye) and the retina (the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye).

The uvea protects the eye and is critical to nutrient and gas exchange. It consists of three parts: the iris (colored part of the eye), ciliary body (the part of the eye that helps the lens focus) and the choroid (the part of the eye connecting the retina to the sclera).

When any part of the uvea becomes inflamed, it is called uveitis. There are several types of uveitis, each affecting different parts of the uvea.

Types of Uveitis

Anterior uveitis: The most common form of uveitis, it affects the iris and its surrounding tissue, the ciliary body, at the front of the eye.

Intermediate uveitis: The least common form of uveitis, it affects the area just behind the ciliary body and the vitreous (the gel-like fluid that fills the eye).

Posterior uveitis: A rare form of uveitis that affects the retina and the choroid at the back of the eye. This form is more difficult to treat and is often associated with progressive loss of vision.

Pan-uveitis: When inflammation affects all three parts of the uvea (from the front to the back of the eye), it is referred to as pan-uveitis.

Intermediate, posterior and pan-uveitis are serious conditions and may cause blindness if left untreated. If you experience any of the symptoms below, contact your eye doctor immediately.

Studies show cigarette smoking increases the risk of uveitis by 95% compared with people who have never smoked. Talk to your doctor and reduce your risk by stopping or never starting.

Symptoms of Uveitis:

  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision
  • Eye pain
  • Red eyes
  • Floaters (small dark spots or squiggly lines that float across your vision)
  • Decreased vision

Uveitis may come on suddenly with redness and pain, or it may be slow in onset with little redness or pain, but with gradual blurring of vision. If you experience any of the above symptoms, schedule an exam with your eye doctor immediately.

Treatments for Uveitis

When treated promptly, uveitis typically responds well. Corticosteroids may be administered to relieve symptoms and prevent vision loss. The first goal is to decrease the inflammation in the eye in a way that balances the potential risk of treatment:

  • Eye drops: Prescription eye drops are the most common treatment. These may be prescribed in combination with anti-inflammatory medications. Eye drops may not penetrate well to the back of the eye, so this type of treatment may not work in posterior uveitis
  • Pills: Your eye doctor may also prescribe steroids as pills
  • Injections: Your eye doctor may administer ocular anti-inflammatory injections to the outside or inside of the eye with a small needle. This treatment may be uncomfortable, but is effective in acute episodes of uveitis
  • Implants: If other treatments don’t work, your eye doctor may suggest surgery to place a small device (implant) into the eye for slow release of corticosteroid medication

Uveitis needs to be treated promptly in order to prevent lasting problems. Some medications can have serious side effects. Follow-up exams, including eye exams and possible blood tests, are important and may be needed every one to three months. Talk to your eye doctor about any concerns you have.