Uveitis is inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, called the uvea or uveal tract. It can cause eye pain and changes to your vision.

Most cases get better with treatment – usually steroid medicine. But sometimes uveitis can lead to further eye problems such as glaucoma and cataracts.

The sooner uveitis is treated, the more successful treatment is likely to be.

Symptoms of uveitis

Symptoms of uveitis include:

The symptoms can develop suddenly or gradually over a few days. One or both eyes may be affected by uveitis.

When to get medical advice

Contact a GP as soon as possible if you have persistent eye pain or an unusual change in your vision, particularly if you've had previous episodes of uveitis.

The GP may refer you to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) who will examine your eye in more detail.

The specialist may suggest further tests if uveitis is diagnosed, including eye scans, X-rays and blood tests. It's important to establish the cause of uveitis because it will help determine what treatment is needed.

Treating uveitis

Steroid medicine is the main treatment for uveitis. It can help reduce inflammation inside your eye.

Different types of steroid medicines are recommended, depending on the type of uveitis. For example:

Additional treatment may also be needed. This might be eyedrops to relieve pain or in some cases, surgery.

Read more about treating uveitis.

What causes uveitis?

Many cases of uveitis are linked to a problem with the immune system (the body's defence against illness and infection). For unknown reasons, the immune system can become overactive in the eye.

Less often, uveitis can be caused by an infection or an eye injury, and it can also happen after eye surgery.

In some cases, a cause cannot be identified.

Read more about the causes of uveitis.

Types of uveitis

There are different types of uveitis, depending on which part of the eye is affected:

Uveitis can sometimes affect both the front and the back of the eye. This is known as panuveitis.

Uveitis can also be described according to how long it lasts. For example:

How common is uveitis?

Uveitis is rare, affecting around 2 to 5 people in every 10,000 in the UK each year. It's most common in people aged 20 to 59, but it can also sometimes affect children.

Complications of uveitis

Uveitis can sometimes lead to further problems, particularly if it is not treated quickly and properly.

You're more likely to develop complications if:

Some of the more common complications of uveitis include:

Page last reviewed: 3 January 2020
Next review due: 3 January 2023