What is uveitis?

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Uveitis: Overview

Uveitis (say "you-vee-EYE-tus") is swelling and tenderness of the middle layer of the eye. This area includes the colored part of the eye (iris), muscles, and blood vessels. One or both of your eyes may be swollen, red, and painful. You may have blurred vision.

You may have gotten uveitis from an infection, but the cause is often not known.

There are three main types of uveitis.

  • Anterior uveitis is the most common type. This is pain and swelling of the front part of the eye. It is treated with eyedrops or ointment.
  • Intermediate uveitis affects the middle of the eye. It may be treated with eyedrops or with medicine given in a shot.
  • Posterior uveitis is the least common type. It affects the back of the eye. This is usually treated with medicine given in a shot or taken by mouth.

It is important to treat uveitis. Treatment can save your eyesight and avoid permanent damage to your eyes.


Uveitis is an inflammation, or swelling and tenderness, of the middle layer of the eye. This area includes the colored part of the eye (iris), muscles, and blood vessels.

Uveitis may develop in people who have:

  • Other diseases that cause chronic inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • A herpes infection that affects the eye.
  • Advanced-stage cataracts that leak fluid into the front (anterior) chamber of the eye. But most cataracts are treated before uveitis develops.

Treatment for uveitis depends on its cause.

How can you care for uveitis?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you have any problems with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Use any prescribed eyedrops or ointments exactly as your doctor told you to.
  • Keep the eyedropper or bottle tip clean.
  • If you are using eyedrops and an ointment, put in the eyedrops before you use the ointment.
  • To put in eyedrops or ointment:
    • Tilt your head back, and pull your lower eyelid down with one finger.
    • Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid.
    • Close your eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops or ointment move around.
    • Do not touch the ointment or dropper tip to your eyelashes or any other surface.
  • Wear sunglasses if light hurts your eyes.
  • Do not wear contact lenses until your eyes have healed.
  • Do not wear eye makeup until your eyes have healed.
  • Do not drive if you have blurred vision.

Uveitis: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of an eye infection, such as:
    • Pus or thick discharge coming from the eye.
    • Redness or swelling around the eye.
    • A fever.
  • You have new or worse eye pain.
  • You have vision changes.
  • It feels like there is something in your eye.
  • Light hurts your eye.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.