Practice 10-Minute Consultation

Acute anterior uveitis

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 25 August 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b2986
  1. Ashraf A Khan, senior house officer1,
  2. Ross J Kelly, general practitioner with special interest in ophthalmology2,
  3. Zia I Carrim, specialist registrar in ophthalmology3
  1. 1Department of Medicine, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield S5 7AU
  2. 2Spencer Street Practice, Carlisle CA1 1BP
  3. 3Department of Ophthalmology, St James’s University Hospital, Leeds LS9 7TF
  1. Correspondence to: Z I Carrim zia.carrim{at}
  • Accepted 1 December 2008

A 37 year old man presents with a five day history of progressively painful red right eye. He is photophobic and has blurred vision. For the past two days he has been using chloramphenicol eye drops, but his symptoms have not improved.

What issues you should cover

The iris, ciliary body, and choroid constitute the uveal tract of the eye. Inflammation of these structures is termed uveitis. Anterior uveitis, in which inflammation is confined to the anterior portion of the uveal tract, is a common cause of acute red eye and has an incidence of 1 in 10 000.

History—Ask about:

  • Onset—usually acute with progressive symptoms.

  • Pain—usually throbbing and aggravated by accommodative effort or change in lighting conditions.

  • Discharge—absent, but lacrimation may be excessive.

  • Vision—ranges from normal in early and mild presentations to greatly reduced in severe cases.

  • Systemic inflammatory conditions—a …

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