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Uveitis

Uveitis is an umbrella term for a group of conditions that cause inflammation in the eye. In Australia, it is most often caused by an autoimmune response, but it can occasionally be due to infections.

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What is uveitis?

Uveitis is inflammation inside the eyeball. It involves the uvea – a layer of blood vessels that sits within the eyeball, under the white of the eye.

Uveitis can cause redness, pain, floaters, sensitivity to light and blurred vision. In serious cases, it can damage the eye tissue and lead to blindness.

How common is uveitis?

Anyone can get uveitis but is it a relatively uncommon condition. In Australia, it affects around 20 people per 100,000 each year.

Uveitis is the third leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide.

What are the causes and risk factors?

Uveitis can occur from infections and eye injuries. But in Australia, most cases are caused by an autoimmune response. When this happens, the body’s immune system attacks the eye by mistake.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The most common symptom of uveitis is a red, painful eye. Other symptoms include:

  • blurred vision
  • dark floating spots (‘floaters’)
  • sensitivity to light.

Uveitis can affect one eye or both at once. It can come on suddenly or slowly, and last for a few weeks (acute) or for months at a time (chronic). It can sometimes reoccur many times.

How is uveitis diagnosed?

If you have the symptoms of uveitis, it’s important to see your eye healthcare provider. If you have uveitis and it is left untreated, it can lead to loss of vision and even blindness.

Your eye healthcare provider will do a full eye exam to check for uveitis.

What treatment is available?

There is currently no cure for uveitis. However, it’s possible to control it until it goes into remission.

You can manage uveitis with medications that reduce inflammation or suppress your immune response. These come in the form of eye drops, pills or injections.

Treatment aims to reduce inflammation and pain, prevent tissue damage and save sight.

Can uveitis be prevented?

Uveitis cannot be prevented. But you can reduce the chance of relapse and the condition getting worse by not smoking.

CERA researchers have found a possible link between vitamin D deficiency and relapses of uveitis and uveitis activity. While more studies are needed to prove this, it’s worth getting your vitamin D checked and taking supplements if your levels are low.

What uveitis research is happening at CERA?

Our researchers are involved in a range of studies on uveitis. A few key projects include:

  • Testing a new treatment for non-infectious uveitis.
  • Determining the best treatment for certain forms or complications of uveitis.
  • Finding the best way to use a drug called adalimumab in children with a specific form of uveitis.

Uveitis research at CERA is led by Associate Professor Lyndell Lim, a uveitis and medical retina subspecialist, who is also Head of Clinical Trials Research.

How can I help?

You can support uveitis research at CERA by making a donation or volunteering for a research trial.