Uveitis Causes and Symptoms

It may sound like a condition caused by the sun’s UV rays, but uveitis (yoo-vee-eye-tis) is actually an inflammation or swelling of the eye’s uvea. The uvea is located in the center of the eye, between the sclera and the retina, and is responsible for supplying blood to the retina. Uveitis is a rare disease that usually occurs in young and middle-aged people. Vision loss may occur when scars develop on the choroid and retina. The amount of vision lost depends on the amount and location of the scarring.

Close up of inflamed eye
Bastun / Getty Images


Symptoms of uveitis may develop suddenly. If your eye suddenly becomes red, painful, and sensitive to light, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Common symptoms of uveitis include:

  • Redness of the eye
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision
  • Floaters
  • Pain in the eye


In many cases of uveitis, the cause is unknown. However, it can be caused by certain autoimmune disorders, infection, or exposure to toxins. There are three different types of uveitis, depending on the location of the inflammation.

  • Iritis. The most common form of uveitis, iritis is an inflammation of the iris, in the front part of the eye. It may affect only one eye.
  • Pars Planitis. Usually affecting young men, pars planitis is inflammation of the narrow area between the iris and the choroid, called the pars plana.
  • Choroiditis. Primarily involving the choroid, choroiditis affects the back part of the uvea.


An eye doctor will be able to diagnose uveitis after performing a complete eye examination. During the eye examination, your healthcare provider will exam the front part of the eye called the anterior chamber. Most types of uveitis will cause the anterior chamber to fill with white blood cells. These cells are a strong diagnostic sign that the eye has uveitis. Next, your practitioner will check the eye pressure or intraocular pressure. Sometimes the pressure can be lower than normal and in other cases uveitis can increase eye pressure. Your pupils will be dilated to examine the posterior part of the eye. Sometimes white blood cells and inflammatory debris will show here. The healthcare provider will use many diagnostic tests and ask several questions about current symptoms as well as medical history. Additional tests may be ordered, such as X-rays or MRIs, because uveitis is often caused by other medical conditions. It is important to find the underlying cause so proper treatment can be given.

Associated Conditions

Uveitis may be associated with the following conditions:

  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Histoplasmosis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Syphilis
  • AIDS
  • CMV retinitis or other cytomegalovirus infection
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Herpes zoster infection
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Behcet’s disease
  • Psoriasis
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Trauma


Treating uveitis usually consists of a prescribed steroid of some form, to reduce inflammation. Depending on the area of the uvea affected, your healthcare provider may prescribe steroid drops, injections or pills. If you are in pain, your practitioner may use dilating drops to dilate the pupil, reducing spasm of the pupillary muscles. Drops may also be prescribed to lower the pressure in your eye. If the inflammation caused by uveitis is severe or chronic, patients may be prescribed steroid-sparing anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory chemotherapy medications.

The underlying cause of the uveitis, if found, will also require treatment. Also, after reducing the inflammation, your healthcare provider may need to prescribe treatment for secondary conditions such as scarring, glaucoma or cataracts, if they develop.

A Word From Verywell

If you have symptoms of uveitis, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor, especially if there is pain or reduced vision. It is important to properly treat existing diseases as well, as this may help prevent uveitis.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Eye Institute. Uveitis.

  2. MedlinePlus. Uveitis.

  3. Trottini M, Tolud C. The many moods of uveitis.

  4. Harman LE, Margo CE, Roetzheim RG. Uveitis: the collaborative diagnostic evaluation. Am Fam Physician. 90(10):711-6. PMID:25403035

  5. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Traumatic iritis.

  6. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Acute anterior uveitis.

By Troy Bedinghaus, OD
Troy L. Bedinghaus, OD, board-certified optometric physician, owns Lakewood Family Eye Care in Florida. He is an active member of the American Optometric Association.