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Uveitis: Inflammation of the Middle Eye

Uveitis refers to inflammation of the uvea. The uvea is the middle layer of the eye between the retina and sclera (the white part of the eye). The choroid, ciliary body and iris make up the 3 parts of the uvea. Read our companion article on the anatomy of the human eye to learn about the different parts of the human eye.

Uveitis is commonly treated with steroids, dark glasses or dilating eye drops which help relieve the pain. Although uveitis is treatable, there is no guarantee that it won’t come back at some point.

Regular eye examinations are one way to keep inflammation of the uvea in check. Left untreated uveitis, and other eye problems, can lead to permanent vision loss. Smoking may worsen the condition and increase the time it takes to reduce the inflammation.

Uveitis Symptoms

  • Blurry vision
  • Painful eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Seeing floaters or spots
  • Sensitivity to light

Types of Uvea Inflammation

All forms of uveitis typically present as white blood cells leaking from the blood vessels of the uvea. One or both eyes can be affected by this disease.

  1. Cyclitis – AKA intermediary uveitis, inflammation of the ciliary body in the center of the eye
  2. Iritis – AKA anterior uveitis, inflammation of the iris in the front of the eye
  3. Choroiditis – AKA posterior uveitis, inflammation of the choroid in the back of the eye
  4. Panuveitis – AKA diffuse uveitis, inflammation of all 3 areas of the uvea

Uveitis Causes

  • Autoimmune – associated with a known autoimmune disease such as lupus, multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Idiopathic – no known cause
  • Infectious – caused by bacteria, fungus, parasite or virus
  • Traumatic – caused by injury to the eye

Schedule Your Eye Exam at My Eyelab

Eye doctors use a slit lamp during your eye exam to see a magnified view of the interior of your eyes. Optometrists and ophthalmologists can diagnose uveitis and other eye disease during a routine check up.

Uveitis is difficult to diagnose, your eye doctor may refer you to a specialist such as an Ocular Immunologist is he suspects you have an inflamed uvea. Left untreated uvea inflammation can lead to cataracts, glaucoma and irreversible loss of eyesight.


Uveitis Resources

  1. The Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundation – their mission is to find cures for ocular inflammatory diseases.
  2. What is Uveitis?
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