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Anterior Uveitis

(Uveitis; Iritis; Iridocyclitis)

Definition

Anterior uveitis is inflammation of the front segment of the uvea. The uvea is the middle layer of the eye. Anterior uveitis affects the iris and ciliary body. It is a potentially serious condition. It requires care from your doctor to prevent vision loss.

Normal Anatomy of the Eye
AR00032_labeled eye

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Causes

In most cases, the cause of anterior uveitis is unknown. In some, it may be caused by trauma or an infection. Infections associated with anterior uveitis include:

Risk Factors

Anterior uveitis may be more likely to occur in people with other health problems and autoimmune disorders, such as

Symptoms

Anterior uveitis may cause:

  • Red, sore, and watering eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Pupil that is small or irregular in shape

Symptoms of Uveitis—Red, Sore, Watering Eyes
Eye Inflammation

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Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. An eye exam will be done. An eye specialist will do a more extensive exam of the inside of your eye.

Blood tests may be done to look for other disorders causing or associated with anterior uveitis.

Treatment

Most often, treatment will focus on relieving the symptoms of anterior uveitis until it goes away. It is important to follow treatment recommendations to prevent complications or recurrence.

Focus may be on treating the underlying cause of anterior uveitis.

Medications

Anterior uveitis may be treated with:

  • Corticosteroid eye drops to control inflammation
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as eye drops
  • Cycloplegic (pupil dilating) agents to help decrease pain and light sensitivity, and to prevent the iris from sticking to the lens underneath
  • Topical beta agonists to help relieve pressure in the eye

Procedures

If other treatment methods fail or symptoms worsen, surgery may be needed.

It is important to follow up with your doctor and watch for signs of recurrence.

Prevention

There are no current guidelines to prevent anterior uveitis.

RESOURCES:

Iritis Organization
http://www.iritis.org

National Eye Institute
http://www.nei.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Association of Optometrists
https://opto.ca

Canadian Ophthalmological Society
http://www.cos-sco.ca

REFERENCES:

Anterior uveitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T219075/Anterior-uveitis. Updated December 3, 2014. Accessed December 14, 2017.

Facts about uveitis. National Eye Institute (NEI) website. Available at: https://nei.nih.gov/health/uveitis/uveitis. Updated August 2011. Accessed December 14, 2017.

Iritis overview website. Available at: http://www.iritis.org. Accessed December 14, 2017.

Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP  Last Updated: 6/11/2015