The body responds to germs
and toxins in the eye with
swelling and redness. This
inflammation is called uveitis.

What is Uveitis?

Uveitis is inflammation of the part of the eye called the uvea. The uvea is the middle layer of the eye, between the innermost layer, the retina, and the outermost layer, the sclera.

The uvea is composed of three parts: the iris, the ciliary body, and the choroid. Because the blood vessels of the uvea nourish important parts of the eye, such as the retina, inflammation of the uvea can harm your sight and affect other parts of your eye, such as the lens, the retina, the optic nerve, and the vitreous.  

The source of your uveitis may be a problem or disease of the eye, or it may be the result of an inflammatory disease affecting other parts of your body. You may have infectious or non-infectious uveitis.

While people of all ages can be affected by uveitis, it is most commonly seen in people between the ages of 20 and 60.

Your board-certified retina specialist can determine whether you have uveitis.

The four types of Uveitis

Iritis: The most common type of uveitis, iritis affects the front (the anterior) of your eye. (Your retina specialist may also refer to iritis as anterior uveitis.) The onset is usually sudden, and the condition may last six to eight weeks. It is most common in young and middle-aged people who are often otherwise healthy, but some cases of uveitis are associated with rheumatologic, skin, gastrointestinal, lung and infectious diseases.

Pars planitis: Also called intermediate uveitis, this type is characterized by inflammation in the middle of the eye. Most often seen in young adults, the center of the inflammation tends to appear in the vitreous. It has been linked to several disorders, including sarcoidosis and multiple sclerosis. Pars planitis can last a few weeks or number of years, and goes through cycles of getting better, then worse.

Posterior uveitis: This type can develop slowly and affects the back (the posterior) of your eye, often involving both the retina and the choroid. It is the least common form of uveitis and often lasts for many years.

Panuveitis: All layers of the uvea are inflamed in this type of the disease. Behcet's disease is one of the most well-known forms of panuveitis, which severely damages the retina.

What causes Uveitis?

The body responds to insults like tissue damage and to "invaders" such as germs and toxins with inflammation. Inflammation causes swelling, redness, and heat, and destroys tissue as certain white blood cells rush to contain or eliminate the insult. When this inflammatory response occurs in the eye, we call it uveitis.

Uveitis (inflammation in your eye) may be caused by:

  • An autoimmune condition (your body's own immune system attacks the body)
  • Infections or tumors in the eye or in other parts of the body
  • Bruises to the eye
  • Toxins that enter the eye

Diseases associated with Uveitis

Uveitis can be a symptom of many diseases, including:

  • AIDS
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Behcet's syndrome
  • CMV retinitis
  • Herpes zoster infection
  • Histoplasmosis
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Psoriasis
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Syphilis
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Vogt Koyanagi Harada's disease