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What is the uvea?

Uvea is the middle layer of the eye situated between the retina and the sclera, the white layer of the eye. It extends from the back of the eye towards the front and includes the iris, coloured part of the eye, choroid layer and the ciliary body. It is richly supplied with blood vessels and provides blood supply to the retina and other parts of the eye.

What is uveitis?

Inflammation of the uvea is called uveitis. It can occur at the back or front of the eye or may involve the whole uvea of the eye. Inflammation may also occur in the fluid present in the middle of the eye.

The most common type of uveitis is iritis which is the inflammation of the iris. It may be caused by infection of the eye (eg microbial keratitis, Herpes Simplex Virus), genetic disorders (eg HLA B27), associated with systemic conditions (eg rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, sarcoidosis, multiple sclerosis), systemic infection present in the body (tuberculosis, syphilis), or have no identifiable underlying cause.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms will include redness of the eye, pain, blurring of vision and sensitivity to light. The symptoms may occur suddenly or may develop slowly over time. It may occur in one or both eyes. If not treated in a timely it may cause increase in the intraocular eye pressure, cloudiness of the eye lens (cataract), and detachment of the retina, fluid in the retina or loss of vision. Thus, if you observe any of the symptoms of uveitis, you should consult an eye specialist at the earliest opportunity.

What is the treatment?

Your surgeon will examine your eye in detail and may advise treatment depending on the cause of the uveitis. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause. For most straightforward cases of non-infectious anterior uveitis or iritis, corticosteroid eye drops are prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation.

Even after complete recovery uveitis may recur. So, on reappearance of any symptoms you should consult your surgeon at the earliest opportunity. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent loss of vision due to uveitis. Without treatment there can be permanent adverse effects on the eye.