Uveitis (u-vee-i-tis) is eye inflammation affecting the uvea, the area of the eye that includes the iris, choroid, and the ciliary body. It can also affect nearby parts of the eye, like the retina, vitreous, and optic nerve. (See eye diagram below.)
Sometimes uveitis, or eye inflammation, is caused by bacteria or a virus in the eye. This is called infectious uveitis. When uveitis is caused by something other than infection, it’s considered non-infectious uveitis.
Non-infectious uveitis can be acute, lasting for a short period of time, or chronic, lasting for a long period of time. The most severe types of non-infectious uveitis recur many times.
There are several types of non-infectious uveitis. Each type is named for the area of the eye that’s affected.
Also known as chronic cyclitis, vitritis, or pars planitis, this type of uveitis affects the middle of the eye, the ciliary body, the front of the retina, and the vitreous.
This is a type of uveitis that affects the back of the eye, including the choroid, retina, and optic nerve.
This type of uveitis is inflammation of all parts of the eye.
Non-infectious uveitis can be a chronic eye inflammatory condition. With non-infectious uveitis, there are several signs you may experience in one or both eyes.
A sudden appearance or worsening of symptoms is called a flare. Flares can recur over time.
Uveitis symptoms can include:
Because children can’t always tell you what symptoms they’re experiencing, it may be difficult to determine if they are having eye or vision problems.
It’s helpful to know the behaviors that may be a sign your child has an eye or vision problem:
There are typically no symptoms in the beginning stages of pediatric uveitis, and when there are symptoms, they can go unnoticed for a long period of time.
Some physical symptoms children with non-infectious uveitis* may experience:
Once symptoms do appear, damage to the eye may have already occurred.
This is why regular screenings with an eye doctor, also known as an ophthalmologist, are important if your child's pediatrician determines they are at risk.
Talk to your pediatrician or medical specialist about your child's symptoms and medical history. Be sure to mention if your child has an underlying autoimmune disorder and describe his or her symptoms if there are any.
If you have pain, redness, or any changes in your vision, you should have your eyes examined by an ophthalmologist.
Your ophthalmologist will ask about your medical history, conduct lab work, as well as do a thorough examination.
Uveitis diagnostic tests may include:
It’s important to share your complete medical history, including any conditions you are currently being treated for. If you are diagnosed with non-infectious uveitis, your doctor may work with a rheumatologist to co-manage your condition.
Non-infectious uveitis is caused by inflammation, which can be very damaging; therefore, your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following medications.
Corticosteroids (also called steroids) are medications used to treat inflammation in the eye. They may be in the form of eye drops, pills, injections in or around your eye, intravenous infusions, or implants.
Biologics are medicines that work to control inflammation and treat inflammatory conditions in the body.
Your doctor may prescribe other medications, such as an immunosuppressive agent.
It’s important to keep in mind that all medications have side effects. Make sure to discuss the risks and benefits with your health care provider.
*HUMIRA (adalimumab) is approved for the treatment of non-infectious intermediate, posterior, and panuveitis in adults and children 2 years of age and older.