The uvea consists of the middle, pigmented, vascular layer of the eye and includes the iris, ciliary body, and choroid. Uveitis is broadly defined as inflammation (ie, -itis) of the uvea (from the Latin uva, meaning “grape”). Inflammation of the uvea can involve other ocular structures such as the retina, sclera, cornea, vitreous, and optic nerve. The etiology of uveitis is infectious or inflammatory and is variably associated with systemic disease.
Because uveitis can be associated with systemic disease or infection, a careful history and review of systems is an essential first step in diagnosis. A comprehensive physical examination of the eye and pertinent organ systems is performed to characterize the type of inflammation present and to identify any associated systemic findings. The anatomical location of inflammation combined with results from the history and physical examination helps to guide further investigations. Multimodal ophthalmic imaging has an important role in characterizing certain types of intraocular inflammation. Laboratory studies can help determine the etiology of the intraocular inflammation but are never a substitute for a thorough history and physical examination. Determining the specific type of uveitis guides the selection of treatment (see Chapter 6).
Excerpted from BCSC 2020-2021 series: Section 9 - Uveitis and Ocular Inflammation. For more information and to purchase the entire series, please visit https://www.aao.org/bcsc.