Check Out Those Peepers: Psoriasis and the Risk of Uveitis

Last updated: October 2023

If you live with plaque psoriasis, you are familiar with symptoms like dry, itchy, raised skin patches (plaques). While psoriasis mainly affects the skin, it is important to also look out for symptoms in other areas of the body, including your eyes.1,2

Research shows that 7 to 20 percent of people with psoriasis also have an eye condition called uveitis. Uveitis is a term used to describe inflammation of the eye, which causes redness and pain. Over time, uveitis can lead to vision loss.1,2

What is uveitis?

Uveitis refers to inflammation of the uvea. The uvea is the middle layer of the eye between the white part of the eye (sclera) and the innermost layer of the eye (retina). Uveitis can also impact other structures in the eye, such as the lens, optic nerve, and vitreous body (a gel-like fluid that is attached to the retina).3-5

Uveitis can develop at any age, but it is most common in people ages 20 to 60.3-5

How is psoriasis linked to uveitis?

Few studies have explored the connection between psoriasis and uveitis. But some research shows that people who have severe psoriasis along with psoriatic arthritis have the highest risk of uveitis. Experts believe that the inflammation that causes psoriasis symptoms can also affect areas of the eye, leading to uveitis.1,2

Research also shows that a person's genes may play a role. Some studies have found that people who have the HLA-B27 gene variant may be more likely to have psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, and/or uveitis.1,2

What are the symptoms of uveitis?

Uveitis can affect one or both eyes. Symptoms include:1-5

  • Blurry vision
  • Dark, floating spots in the vision (floaters)
  • Redness of the eye
  • Eye pain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Small or irregular-shaped pupils

These symptoms can occur slowly over time, or they may develop quickly. Uveitis symptoms may be mild, but severe symptoms can threaten vision. As with other psoriasis symptoms, the severity of uveitis varies from person to person.3-5

How is uveitis diagnosed?

If you have psoriasis, it is important to get your eyes checked regularly. Uveitis is diagnosed by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist). Diagnosis involves one or more of the following:3-5

  • Vision test – Your doctor will use an eye chart to test your vision.
  • Dilated eye exam – This exam uses eye drops that dilate your pupil. This allows your doctor to view the back of your eye.
  • Tonometry – This exam measures the pressure inside your eye.
  • Slit lamp exam – A slit lamp is a special microscope with a bright light that your doctor can use to get a closer look at the front of your eye and inside your eye.

Complications of uveitis

If uveitis is not diagnosed or treated early, it can lead to complications. These may include:1-3

  • Permanent vision damage
  • Cataracts (when the lens of the eye becomes clouded)
  • Fluid within the retina
  • Glaucoma (an eye disease that damages your eye’s optic nerve), leading to vision loss
  • Retinal detachment (an emergency that can cause vision loss)
  • Vision loss or blindness

Early diagnosis and proper treatment of uveitis can help reduce the risk of these complications.1-3

How is uveitis treated?

The goal of treating uveitis is to reduce the inflammation in the eye. In turn, this can save your vision and reduce complications.1-3

The most common uveitis treatments include:1-4

  • Anti-inflammatory steroids – These may be taken as eye drops, oral medicine, or eye injections
  • Steroid-releasing implant – This is a device that is surgically implanted into the eye and slowly releases steroids to control inflammation
  • Biologic drugsBiologics are often prescribed for moderate to severe psoriasis and can also help treat eye and joint inflammation

Proper treatment of psoriasis can reduce the risk of long-term complications like uveitis.

If you have any eye pain, sensitivity to light, or vision changes, visit an eye doctor as soon as possible to have your eyes examined.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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