What Is Uveitis?

Uveitis is a serious eye problem that can damage your vision. It is a redness and swelling (inflammation) of the uvea. The uvea is the fragile tissue just inside your eye’s white outer layer (the sclera). If you have uveitis, you must see an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) right away. You must get treatment to keep 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, including:

  • An eye injury

  • Infection

  • Exposure to toxins

  • Autoimmune or inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease

In many cases, the cause can’t be found.

How is your eye affected?

Uveitis most often inflames the colored part of your eye (iris). This inflammation is called iritis. The iris opens and closes the pupil, the hole through which light enters your eye. Because of this, uveitis can cause pain and sensitivity to light. Often, the eye becomes red. Your vision may get blurry. You may see spots floating in your eye. Uveitis can affect one or both eyes. If it is not treated, it can get worse. It can lead to other eye diseases that affect your vision, such as glaucoma or cataracts. It can even cause permanent vision loss.