Uveitis is an infection of the eye that is often painful. If you are unsure about an eye problem, it is best to talk to a health professional. If you have sudden pain in your eye, see a doctor as soon as possible.
What is uveitis?
Uveitis is a term to describe a group of conditions that cause inflammation of the middle layer of the wall of your eye. The uvea, which becomes inflamed, sits under the sclera, which is the white outer layer.
You can get different types of uveitis, such as:
- anterior uveitis, which affects the iris in the front of the eye
- intermediate uveitis, which affects between the iris and the lens
- posterior uveitis, which affects the retina and blood vessels at the back of your eye
- panuveitis, which involves all parts of the middle layer
What causes uveitis?
The cause of uveitis is often not clear but it can be caused by:
- an eye injury or infection
- toxins in the eye
- autoimmune diseases such as juvenile inflammatory arthritis
- infection, for example, with herpes, toxoplasmosis or tuberculosis
- cancer affecting the eye
- an inflammatory disorder, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
Uveitis usually causes a red painful eye. The light hurts the eyes. The person might get blurred vision and see dark floating spots. It can come on suddenly or slowly, and it can affect one or both eyes.
If you are worried about your eyes, see your doctor or optometrist. Many eye conditions go away on their own, but if you have uveitis and it is left untreated, it can result in serious conditions like glaucoma, cataracts and loss of vision.
Your doctor or optometrist will do a full eye examination. If they suspect uveitis, you might also need:
- blood tests
- testing the fluid of the eye
- photography of the blood flow of the eye
- photography of the retina
Treatment aims to reduce inflammation and resolve any underlying condition, such as infection. Medication might include:
- corticosteroid eyedrops, pills or injection
- antibiotics or antivirals
- other medications to dampen down the immune system
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: April 2020