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What Is Uveitis?

Some eye problems may not be serious and get better without treatment. But some, like uveitis, can be serious and threaten your vision. 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 (ophthalmologist). Uveitis can damage vision. If you have uveitis, you will need to be seen by a doctor and get treatment to preserve your eyesight. 

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 1 or both eyes. Untreated, it can worsen and lead to other vision-threatening eye diseases, such as glaucoma or cataracts. It can even lead to permanent loss of vision.


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