Your Eyes

Diagnosing and managing uveitis

This information is for anyone with axial spondyloarthritis (axial SpA) including people with ankylosing spondylitis (AS)

What is uveitis?

About a quarter of people with axial SpA will have an attack of uveitis (sometimes known as iritis) at some time in their life.

This is an eye condition caused by inflammation in the front part of the eye between the cornea (the clear window at the front of the eye) and the lens.

What are the signs and symptoms of uveitis

  • Pain in the eye
  • Sensitivity to light. The brighter the light the more pain in the eye as the pupil gets smaller causing pain
  • Redness and soreness of the eye
  • Blurred vision

Uveitis usually comes on suddenly and is likely to recur

Each single attack usually lasts a few weeks and should last no more than 3 months. The inflammation can range from mild to severe and each attack may be different, even in the same person.

What should you do?

If you think you have symptoms of uveitis you should see an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours, to confirm it and start you on treatment. Early treatment reduces the risk of long term damage to the eye which can affect your vision.

You can find an ophthalmologist by asking your GP to make an urgent referral to the local ophthalmology team or you can go to your local hospital A&E department who will contact the ophthalmologist to arrange an urgent review.

Uveitis is usually treated with a combination of eye drops.

  • Steroid eye drops such as dexamethasone and prednisolone reduce the inflammation
  • Dilating drops dilate the pupil which reduces the risk of the iris sticking to the lens and break any attachments that have already formed

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Managing my Uveitis

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Consultant Rheumatologist Professor Karl Gaffney ran a Facebook live about other conditions axial SpA can cause, including uveitis:

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