How do eye doctors check for uveitis?

Diagnosis and treatment of uveitis is important for a number of reasons. Uveitis can cause permanent damage to the eyes and vision loss that cannot be reversed. Also, uveitis may be caused by another disease or condition that, if left untreated, can lead to serious illness. For some people, a diagnosis of uveitis is a first step in diagnosing and treating a life-threatening problem.

Getting a Complete Eye Exam ► Getting a Complete Eye Exam ▼

Anyone who notices signs of eye problems should visit an eye doctor for a complete eye exam. At a complete eye exam, the eye doctor will do a thorough examination of the eyes, using some of the following tests:

Medical History

Because uveitis is often caused by other diseases and conditions, it is very important for the eye doctor to get a thorough picture of your medical history. This may start with a questionnaire that you fill out in the doctor’s waiting room. It is important to be as careful and accurate as possible in filling out this questionnaire. This questionnaire may include questions about your family, your personal medical history, your work, etc. Your eye doctor will go over your history with you during the exam. And will also examine you for signs of diseases outside the eye that could cause uveitis.

Ophthalmoscopy

The eye doctor will put drops in your eyes (which may burn a little) to make the pupils bigger (dilate). This helps the eye doctor look inside the eyes and check the optic nerve at the back of the eye.

Visual Acuity

Your eye doctor will test your visual acuity (the sharpness of your vision). The Snellen eye chart is the most common way that eye doctors test visual acuity. Eye doctors may also use an “HOTV” chart or “rolling E” chart.

Visual Field

Damage to the optic nerve may cause a loss of side vision (peripheral vision). A visual field test can check your peripheral vision for any changes.

Pupils and Eye Movements

The eye doctor will look at your pupils to check for signs of eye problems and check the movement of the eyes.

Gonioscopy

After numbing the eye, the doctor gently places a special lens on the surface to examine the area in the front of the eye that drains fluid.

Tonometry

Tonometry measures pressure in the eye. Medicine drops are used to numb the eye. An instrument gently presses on the outside of your eye. Pressure is shown as a number followed by the abbreviation “mm Hg.” This stands for “millimeters of mercury,” a standard measure for pressure. An average pressure is about 16 mm Hg.

Slit Lamp Microscope

To find signs of eye inflammation, the eye doctor uses a special microscope called a slit lamp. The machine shines a light into one eye at a time so the doctor can look closely at the inside of the eye. The eye doctor will also be able to look for different kinds of inflammation to help in discovering the cause of the uveitis.

Fluorescein Angiography

Doctors can find potential damage caused by some kinds of uveitis by injecting a substance that "lights up" the veins. This simple procedure provides a clear picture of the blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye.

Other Procedures

To look for underlying causes of uveitis, your eye doctor may also order lab tests. You will have blood drawn for these tests.

Special Considerations for a Child's Eye Exam ► Special Considerations for a Child's Eye Exam ▼

Be sure to tell the eye doctor about all the medicines your child is taking.

If your child has diabetes or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), he or she may need to see an eye doctor several times a year. Please follow the recommendations of your child’s doctors in scheduling eye exams.