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What Is Uveitis?

Eye problems often are not serious. But some, like uveitis, can be. Uveitis is an inflammation of the uvea. This fragile tissue lies just behind the sclera (the white outer layer of the eye). Uveitis requires prompt treatment by an eye doctor. Without proper care, uveitis can damage vision.

Cross section side view of eye showing pupil and lens behind pupil. Sclera is white covering of eye. Iris is colored part of eye and controls movement of pupil. Ciliary body is muscle attached to lens of eye. Choroid lies just behind sclera and contains blood vessels to nourish eye. Uvea is made up of iris, ciliary body, and choroid. Inflammation of any one of these is uveitis. Closeup front view of eye showing inflamed blood vessels making eye appear red.

What Causes Uveitis?

Uveitis has many possible causes. It can be caused by trauma to the eye, infection, and exposure to toxins. It can also be caused by other problems in the body. These can include autoimmune or inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. In many cases, the cause cannot be found.

How Is Your Eye Affected?

Uveitis most often inflames the iris (iritis). Since the iris opens and closes the pupil (the hole through which light enters the eye), uveitis can cause pain and sensitivity to light. Often, the eye gets red. Vision may become blurred. You may see spots floating in your eye. Uveitis can affect one or both eyes. Untreated, it can worsen and lead to more severe eye diseases, such as glaucoma or cataracts. It can even lead to loss of vision.


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