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What is uveitis? — Uveitis is an uncommon condition that affects the middle part of the eye, called the "uvea" (figure 1). Uveitis that affects the front part of the eye is called "anterior uveitis" or "iritis." The symptoms are caused by inflammation and can include:
●A red eye
●Being very uncomfortable looking at bright lights
●A small pupil – The pupil is the dark, round area at the center of the eye.
Uveitis that affects the back of the eye is called "posterior uveitis." The symptoms can include:
●Floaters – These are tiny, dark spots that move across your line of sight.
But having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have uveitis. Different eye conditions can cause some or all of these symptoms.
What causes uveitis? — Many different things can cause uveitis, including:
●Infections – These can be caused by viruses or bacteria.
●Autoimmune diseases – These are diseases in which the body's infection-fighting system attacks healthy tissue instead of infections. Autoimmune diseases can cause inflammation in the eye and other parts of the body.
Should I see a doctor or a nurse? — See a doctor if you have any symptoms of uveitis. Uveitis can cause vision loss if it is not treated.
Will I need tests? — Your doctor or nurse will decide which tests you should have based on your medical history. You will need an eye exam. Other tests might include:
●A complete physical exam
●A chest X-ray
How is uveitis treated? — The treatment depends on which kind of uveitis you have and what is causing it. Treatments can include eye drops, pills, or injections (shots) directly into the eye. Several of these treatments are steroid medicines that help reduce inflammation. These are not the same as the steroids some athletes take illegally.
Your doctor might prescribe some or all of the following:
●Eye drops that contain steroids
●Eye drops to ease pain
●Steroid injections into the eye (for posterior uveitis)
●Other medicines, such as pills or shots, to treat the uveitis or the condition causing it