Complications of uveitis 

Uveitis can sometimes lead to further problems, especially if it's not treated properly.

People with chronic (long-term) uveitis, or the less common types of uveitis affecting the middle or back of the eye (intermediate and posterior uveitis), are most at risk of developing complications.

Complications are also more likely to occur in adults who are over 60 years old.

Other eye conditions can sometimes be caused by the steroids used to treat the uveitis, such as secondary glaucoma and cataracts.

Some of the more common complications of uveitis are described below.


Untreated uveitis can cause the iris (the coloured part of the eye) to stick to the front surface of the lens (the transparent structure that focuses the light entering your eye). This prevents fluid draining through the pupil and increases the pressure inside the eye.

The raised pressure inside your eye can damage the optic nerve (the nerve at the back of the eye that transmits images to the brain) and disrupt your normal vision, such as causing misty vision and rings or halos to appear around lights. This is known as glaucoma.

Treatment options for glaucoma include:

  • eye drops (usually all that is required)
  • laser treatment
  • surgery

Read more about treating glaucoma.


The inflammation inside the eye associated with uveitis can sometimes irritate the lens of the eye, causing cloudiness of the lens to develop. The cloudiness is known as cataracts. They can cause symptoms such as:

  • blurred, hazy vision
  • problems seeing clearly at night
  • glare

Cataracts are usually treated using surgery to remove the affected lens and replace it with an artificial one. It's important that the uveitis is controlled and treated before considering cataract surgery.

See cataracts and cataract surgery for more information.

Cystoid macular oedema 

Cystoid macular oedema, or swelling of the retina, is a complication that can affect some people with chronic uveitis or uveitis that affects the back of the eye.

Prolonged inflammation can result in a build-up of fluid within the central retina (the macula). This can disrupt its ability to function normally and lead to a painless loss of central vision. You may notice a black spot in your central vision.

Cystoid macular oedema can be treated using corticosteroid injections or tablets. 

In most cases, a person's vision will recover once treatment is initiated. However, this isn't always the case in severe prolonged cases of cystoid macular oedema. This is why the condition is a leading cause of visual impairment in people with uveitis.

Detatched retina

Retinal detachment occurs when the thin lining at the back of your eye called the retina begins to pull away from the blood vessels that supply it with oxygen and nutrients. 

It can also rarely be caused by inflammation related to uveitis, and is treated in the same way as the uveitis. It can also occur after an attack of posterior uveitis caused by viruses, in which case it may need urgent surgery.

Symptoms include progressive further deterioration in vision, floaters (dark spots that float in your field of vision) and flashing lights.

You should contact your GP or eye department straight away if you have these symptoms.

Posterior synechiae

This is caused by the iris sticking to the lens of the eye as a result of inflammation. It's more likely if uveitis isn't treated quickly.

Page last reviewed: 27/01/2015

Next review due: 27/01/2017