If you have uveitis, it means that part of your eye -- often your uvea, a section of your eye that contains your iris -- is inflamed.  With the proper care, your eye doctor can help prevent the glaucoma, cataracts, or blindness uveitis can cause.

How will your doctor know you have it? They’ll look at several things.

Symptoms

Many people who have uveitis go to a doctor because their eye has become red or painful. This change can be sudden or gradual. It’s worth a trip to their office if you notice:

  • Redness in your eye
  • Eye pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Floaters (dark spots that seem to float in front of your field of vision)

Health History

You’ll probably be asked for it, maybe through a questionnaire in your doctor’s office. This’ll help your eye doctor rule out other problems or confirm that you have uveitis.

If you’ve had trauma to your eye or surgery on it, you may be more likely to get uveitis. You’re also at greater risk if you have:

  • AIDS
  • Ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Shingles
  • Tuberculosis
  • Ulcerative colitis

Eye Exam

Your doctor may:

  • Put special drops in your eyes to make your pupils bigger (they may say “dilate”). They’ll do this so they can see the inside of your eye better.
  • Ask you to use your eyes to follow an object that moves up and down, left and right, without turning your head
  • Have you read an eye chart
  • Test your peripheral (side) vision

Eye Pressure Check

Your doctor may use special tools to check that the pressure within your eye is healthy and that fluids are able to drain out of your eyes well. You may hear them call it a “tonometry test.”

A Closer Look

Eyes with uveitis become inflamed. So your doctor will check for swelling and inflammation in each eye. They may use something called a slit lamp microscope. It shines a tiny bit of light into one eye at a time while making the inner structures of your eye appear larger.

Special Dye

They might want to look at the blood vessels in your uvea, since they may be inflamed. Your doctor may inject you with a special dye that glows green in fluorescent light. The dye goes into a vein in your arm. Once it reaches your eye, the doctor can take a picture of your lit-up blood vessels. If they’re damaged or inflamed, your doctor will see it.

Blood Tests

Some things that cause uveitis can show up in a blood test. If you find out you have a condition that needs to be treated by someone other than an eye doctor, you’ll get a referral.

Other Tests

In some cases, your doctor may order tests like an MRI, CT scan, X-ray, or even a skin test to find the cause of your uveitis. If these tests find that another disease is causing it, your eye doctor should send you to a specialist for a follow-up.

WebMD Medical Reference

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WebMD Voices

Kat C., 36
Broomfield, CO
Skip the ER or urgent care and go straight to an ophthalmologist whenever you have concerns. Get comfortable with your doctor, get used to eye exams with the SLIT scope, IOP [intraocular pressure] tests, and learn how to properly use eye drops so they don’t drip down your nasal passages and wreak havoc.
Ashley L., 41
Memphis, TN
Things will get more manageable over time -- you’ll start to recognize your symptoms prior to the flares. That makes it easier to manage your flares in a quick and timely manner, so they don’t last as long.
Amanda L., 38
Atlanta
I have had many flare-ups over the years. I have taken oral steroids, topical steroid eye drops, dilation drops, and injections in my eye. The best advice I can give is to find a great ophthalmologist that will work with you.
Libby S., 35
St. Petersburg, FL
Speak up when things don't feel right with your body. My vision went from excellent to blurry and weird practically overnight. After my conjunctive uveitis diagnosis, I was treated by a special laser to help strengthen my retina. And now, 10 years later, I’m still symptom-free.
Kat C., 36
Broomfield, CO
Uveitis may be lifelong, but it’s manageable. It’s normal to feel helpless and depressed. People around you can’t fully understand the pain, fear, and distress of this condition. Just know you are not alone, and there are even support groups and organizations you can join for free.
Sharon G., 64
Abingdon, VA
Uveitis is a chronic condition, so you need to have a good relationship with your retinal specialist and ophthalmologist and keep all your appointments. If you have any flare-up of symptoms, no matter how small, have it checked out immediately.
Ashley L., 41
Memphis, TN
I did a year of yo-yoing with eyedrops and attempting slow tapers with no success. I finally found my answer in an injectable biologic therapy to manage my now chronic anterior uveitis. I will likely always carry emergency steroid and IOP-lowering drops on me at ALL times, which is a good idea for anyone dealing with uveitis.
Amanda L., 38
Atlanta
I have a prepared kit that is prescribed by my ophthalmologist that I carry with me all the time. If a flare starts, I go ahead and dilate, start my steroid drops, and call my doctor. I don’t recommend doing any of these things without consulting your ophthalmologist first.
Meg R., 50
Tyler, TX
In retrospect, even as a physician, I didn’t understand just how much damage uveitis was doing to me, in part because my symptoms were not always typical. Unlike many people with uveitis, my eye rarely turned red. I knew the attacks were happening primarily by vision changes and most importantly the headaches.
Sharon G., 64
Abingdon, VA
One thing I discovered through my uveitis treatments is that I’m a 'steroid responder,' meaning that instead of helping eye pressure, steroids actually make my eye pressure worse. Figuring that out wasn’t a fun process. But in the end, I think it helped me see that when it comes to my uveitis, the more honest communication with my eye doctor, the better.
Libby S., 35
St. Petersburg, FL
The best advice I have is to be as proactive as possible in treating the disease and get a second opinion sooner than later if you feel that things are progressing, or that your doctor is not paying attention to your complaints.
Amanda L., 38
Atlanta
Don’t be discouraged if your uveitis promptly returns when you taper meds. This just means you have to develop a long-term plan to manage it.

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