Skip to main content
Uveitis

Uveitis is inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, called the uvea or uveal tract. It can cause eye pain and changes to your vision.

Most cases get better with treatment – usually steroid medication. But sometimes uveitis can lead to further eye problems such as glaucoma and cataracts (see below).

The sooner uveitis is treated, the more successful treatment is likely to be.

Symptoms of uveitis

Symptoms of uveitis include:

The symptoms can develop suddenly or gradually over a few days. One or both eyes may be affected by uveitis.

When to get medical advice

Contact your GP as soon as possible if you have persistent eye pain or an unusual change in your vision, particularly if you've had previous episodes of uveitis.

The sooner uveitis is treated, the more successful treatment is likely to be.

Your GP may refer you to an ophthalmologist (eye specialist). The ophthalmologist will examine your eye in more detail.

They may suggest further tests if uveitis is diagnosed, including eye scans, X-rays and blood tests. It's important to establish the cause of uveitis because it will help determine the specific treatment needed.

Treating uveitis

Steroid medication (corticosteroids) is the main treatment for uveitis. It can help reduce inflammation inside your eye.

Different types of steroid medication are recommended depending on the type of uveitis. For example:

Additional treatment may also be needed. This might be eyedrops to relieve pain, a type of medicine known as an immunosuppressant or, in some cases, surgery.

Read more about treating uveitis.

What causes uveitis?

Many cases of uveitis are linked to a problem with the immune system (the body's defence against illness and infection). For unknown reasons, the immune system can become overactive in the eye.

Less often, uveitis can be caused by an infection or an eye injury, and it can also occur after eye surgery.

In some cases a cause can't be identified.

Read more about the causes of uveitis.

Types of uveitis

There are different types of uveitis, depending on which part of the eye is affected:

Uveitis can sometimes affect both the front and the back of the eye. This is known as panuveitis.

Uveitis at the front of the eye is the most common type of uveitis, accounting for about three out of four cases.

Uveitis can also be described according to how long it lasts. For example:

How common is uveitis?

Uveitis is rare, affecting around two to five people in every 10,000 in the UK each year. It's most common in people aged 20 to 59, but it can also sometimes affect children.

Complications of uveitis

Uveitis can sometimes lead to further problems, particularly if it isn't treated quickly and properly.

You're more likely to develop complications if:

Some of the more common complications of uveitis include: