person in eye exam
1 / 13

What Is Uveitis?

It's a catch-all term for a group of inflammatory diseases that affect mostly the middle part of your eye, called the uvea. The main symptoms are eye redness and an aching eye pain along with swelling. Uveitis can destroy eye tissue, so it’s important to see your eye doctor at the first sign of a problem.

Swipe to advance
veins in eye
2 / 13

What Causes It?

Uveitis may be caused by a bruise or diseases like AIDS, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, syphilis, and tuberculosis. In many cases, the cause isn't known. 

Swipe to advance
shoe and cane of blind man
3 / 13

It's Serious

If not treated, uveitis can lead to severe eye problems, including blindness. It’s one of the leading causes of loss of sight among working-age people. Uveitis can also lead to things like cataracts, glaucoma, damage to the optic nerve, and detachment of the retina, a thin tissue that lines the back of your eye.

Swipe to advance
uvea illustration
4 / 13

What Is the Uvea?

The uvea is the colored "inner tube" of the eye. It includes:

  • The choroid. It's a group of blood vessels underneath the retina.
  • The ciliary body. This makes your eye fluid. (Your eye doctor might call it “aqueous.”)
  • The iris. It surrounds the pupil and controls how much light goes into your eye.
Swipe to advance
uveitis close up
5 / 13

What Does It Feel Like?

Your vision could get blurry. You might have redness and pain. It could come on slowly, or you could just wake up with it one morning. It could be in one or both eyes. It usually affects your uvea, but it can hit any part of your eye, including the cornea (the clear covering in the front of your eye), or the white part, called the sclera.

Swipe to advance
floaters in persons's vision
6 / 13

What Else to Look For

You may have:

  • Sensitivity to light
  • “Floaters” in your vision 
  • A whitish spot called a hypopyon on the lower part of your eye 

If light bothers you, or you have eye pain or any change in vision, see your eye doctor right away. 

Swipe to advance
old woman's eye in mirror
7 / 13

Who Gets It?

People of all ages can have it. It’s slightly more common among women. It does crop up more as you age, and it’s more likely to affect more parts of your eyes as you get older.

Swipe to advance
eye doctor
8 / 13

There’s More Than One Kind

  • Anterior uveitis is in the front of your eye. 
  • Intermediate uveitis is in the middle.
  • Posterior uveitis is in the back.
  • Panuveitis affects the whole eye.

The last three are more serious.

Swipe to advance
man with pink eye
9 / 13

Is It the Same as Pinkeye?

Your eye could be pink if you have uveitis. But pinkeye, also called conjunctivitis, isn’t the same thing. Pinkeye is a common condition you get in the lining and white of your eye. It’s often brought on by allergies, viruses, or bacteria. Uveitis is rare and happens inside your eye. Only about 38 of every 100,000 people have it.

Swipe to advance
doctor writring prescription
10 / 13

Can I Prevent It?

Some medicines seem to be able to stop some types of uveitis from coming back (for example, methotrexate works for some people who have anterior uveitis). Prevention, though, is tricky. No one knows exactly what causes it.  An eye exam and your medical history can help your doctor find other diseases you may have that could be the cause. Treating that disease may help your uveitis.

Swipe to advance
couple relaxing on lawn
11 / 13

Is It Contagious?

No. But some of the diseases that are associated with it can be spread. So you don’t have to worry about catching uveitis from someone. But you need to be careful about some of the conditions that might lead to it.

Swipe to advance
man looking into slit lamp
12 / 13

How Do I Find Out If I Have It?

An eye exam will happen first. Your eye doctor will also ask about your medical history. Next, they may:

  • Have you look at an eye chart
  • Order blood tests
  • Dilate your eyes so they can look inside
  • Take an ocular pressure reading. It looks for another eye condition called glaucoma.
  • Give you a slit lamp exam. This will give them a 3D look at different parts of your eye. It’ll help them spot signs of inflammation.
Swipe to advance
woman using eye drops
13 / 13

How Is It Treated?

Anti-inflammatory medicines are often the first step. They’re usually eye drops or ointment. You may also get pills or injections because neither drops nor ointment will reach the middle or back of the eye.

The goal is to treat the inflammation. After that’s taken care of, you’ll need to get your eyes checked regularly to prevent damage and loss of vision.

Swipe to advance

Up Next

Next Slideshow Title

Sources | Medically Reviewed on 10/26/2020 Reviewed by Whitney Seltman on October 26, 2020


1) Getty Images

2) Getty Images

3) Getty Images

4) Getty Images

5) Getty Images

6) Wikimedia

7) Getty Images

8) Getty Images

9) Getty Images

10) Getty Images

11) Getty Images

12) Getty Images

13) Getty Images


SOURCES: “Choroid.”

National Eye Institute: “Facts About Uveitis.”

Vision Aware: “Eye Health: Anatomy of the Eye.”

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “What is Uveitis?”

Prevent Blindness: “Uveitis.”

Mayo Clinic: “Uveitis.”

CDC: “Pink Eye: Usually Mild and Easy to Treat.”

The Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundation: “Guide for Teachers and Parents.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine, Wilmer Eye Institute: “Eye Infections.”

Muñoz-Fernández, S. Eye, Aug. 8, 2008.

Reviewed by Whitney Seltman on October 26, 2020

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.