Uveitis is an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, known as the uvea.
The uvea is made up of different parts, including the iris at the front, the choroid at the back, and the ciliary body in between.
Iritis is inflammation of the iris and is the most common form of uveitis.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of uveitis include:
Sensitivity to light
Watering of the eyes or teary eyes
Black dots in the vision (can also be referred as floaters)
A pupil that is smaller than normal.
Symptoms may occur in just one eye or in both eyes at the same time.
What causes uveitis?
Uveitis can be caused by eye infections or by other eye problems such as scratch to the cornea (front part of eye). For people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) it is often caused by the same process that causes inflammation of the joints.
Uveitis is estimated to affect up to one in four people who have PsA. Smoking can also increase the chance of developing it.
How is it diagnosed?
Your doctor will diagnose uveitis by talking to you about your symptoms and asking about your other medical conditions. If you are already seeing an optometrist, they may also pick up changes in your eye. Your doctor will likely refer you to an ophthalmologist to have the condition confirmed by a thorough eye exam. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specialises in the diagnosis and management of eye conditions. The ophthalmologist will work with you and your healthcare team to figure out the best treatment for you.
What will happen to me?
For most people uveitis can be managed with the right treatment. There will be times when the inflammation and symptoms are minimal. At other times, symptoms may worsen. This is more likely to happen when PsA symptoms also worsen or ‘flare’.
Some cases can cause long-term damage to the eye. While uncommon, permanent vision loss can occur. In most cases these long-term complications can be avoided, if uveitis is diagnosed and treated early. It is important to see your doctor should you experience symptoms.
Can uveitis be cured?
At times you may experience no signs or symptoms of uveitis, however it is not curable, except when caused by a bacterial infection. The aim of treatment is to control the symptoms and prevent long-term damage and complications.
What treatments are there for uveitis?
There are two main medications that are used to treat uveitis. Your ophthalmologist will prescribe either of the following, or a combination of the two:
Corticosteroids to reduce eye inflammation.
Eye drops or cream that dilate (enlarge) the pupil to prevent it sticking to the lens of the eye and causing scarring.
In addition, if you are not already taking them for your PsA, medications to reduce inflammation may be recommended to treat the underlying cause. Your rheumatologist will be able to discuss this with you.
What can I do?
Here are some things that you can do to reduce the risk of long-term complications:
Ensure that your PsA is well-managed. This will also help keep the inflammatory process that causes uveitis under control.
Take your medications as prescribed as this will reduce the risk of long-term damage to your eyes..
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