What is Uveitis or Iritis?

The uvea consists of the colored parts of  your eye: the iris, the ciliary body and the choroid.

Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea.  Iritis is inflammation of the iris.  So iritis is a subset of uveitis as the iris is one part of the whole uvea.  The ending of “-itis” indicates an inflammation of that part of the body.  Panuveitis is inflammation of all three parts of the uvea.

What are the symptoms of uveitis or iritis?

  • Light sensitivity or photophobia
  • Red eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain
  • Floaters

What causes uveitis or iritis?

A simple trauma to the eye can cause iritis.  Trauma to the eye can also cause bleeding of the iris and front part of the eye which can also have iritis at the same time.

If you had recent eye surgery, you can have uveitis from that if your eye did not heal fully.  A virus like the Herpes simplex virus or the Shingles virus or even a corneal infection/inflammation can also cause uveitis.

Uveitis can also be caused by more serious conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sarcoidosis, HLA-B27, HIV or other rheumatologic conditions.  Sometimes we cannot find the cause of uveitis.

What happens if uveitis is untreated?

Chronic uveitis or inflammation of the eye can lead to secondary complications which can temporarily or permanently decrease your vision such as glaucoma, macular swelling or edema, optic nerve damage, retinal detachment, cataracts and corneal problems.

How is uveitis or iritis treated?

Simple iritis due to trauma can resolve on its own within 7-10 days.  But if you have had trauma to your eye, please get a full eye exam to check for other complications including bleeding inside the eye and retinal tears or detachments.

Uveitis or iritis is typically treated with steroid eye drops.  If the condition does not respond to steroids sufficiently, oral medications can be used to control the uveitis in conjunction with your rheumatologist or primary care doctor.  If uveitis is recurrent, you need to get checked for the cause so it can be better treated.  You want to prevent the complications of uveitis and keep your vision working well for the rest of your life.

What is Uveitis? Eyesmart Website