Eye Q: Uveitis

What is uveitis?


Uveitis is a term used to refer any type of inflammation inside the eye. Inflammation in the eye can have infection or noninfection causes. The majority of patients who experience inflammation in the eye never know the cause. While this is disturbing to patients, it is gratifying to know that their condition is not associated with a severe systemic disease. The characterization of the inflammation is most important in helping to determine treatment type as well as the prognosis for good vision retention. For this reason, uveitis is characterized based on the location within the eye where the inflammation is most prominent. Thus, we divide uveitis into anterior, intermediate and posterior.


Inflammation in the eye is invariably treated with steroids. Most commonly used steroids are delivered as drops, sometimes frequently upon initiation of therapy. Steroids also may be delivered as injections around or in the eye or as medication taken orally. The side effects of long-term use of steroids need to be discussed with patients at the beginning of treatment.  The two main concerns are for the development of high pressure in the eye or haziness to the normal lens of the eye and cataract. While these are very concerning, proper monitoring of steroid use as well as the evaluation of patients during their use permits a high degree of ability to avoid these side effects. Untreated inflammation also can result in high pressure in the eye and cataract.