Uveitis in Dogs: Managing Eye Inflammation

Many of the medications that improve our daily lives were first found in nature—the discovery of aspirin began with willow tree bark, penicillin was first extracted from a common species of mold, and countless other life-improving compounds have roots in the natural world.

Dr. Erin Scott, an assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, has found inspiration in the turmeric plant, a member of the ginger family known for its vivid yellow color that may have powerful anti-inflammatory properties useful in the treatment of uveitis in dogs.

Read More:  Granola Peanut-Butter Crunchies with Turmeric Recipe

“Uveitis is inflammation inside the eye of dogs that can cause discomfort and sensitivity to light,” Scott said. “It occurs commonly in dogs and has many causes. We can see uveitis secondary to infectious diseases, cancer, and auto-immune diseases. Uveitis can also occur with longstanding cataracts and after cataract surgery is performed.”


Uveitis is a leading cause of complications after cataract surgery in dogs, Scott says, and the management of postoperative inflammation inside the eye is a major challenge in both veterinary and human ophthalmology.

Symptoms of Uveitis

  • Ocular pain
  • Reddening of the dog’s eye
  • Excessive squinting
  • Avoiding bright lights
  • Cloudy appearance in the dog’s eye

An owner might suspect their pet has this condition if they keep their affected eye shut by squinting and avoiding bright lights. A pet’s eye may also appear cloudy or exhibit excessive tearing.


“Current treatments for canine uveitis include a combination of systemic and topical anti-inflammatory medications, either in the form of steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),” Scott said.

While these medications are effective in the treatment of uveitis, they can cause unwanted side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ulcers, negatively impact kidney and liver function, and increase glucose levels in diabetic patients.

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New Research

For these reasons, Scott and her colleagues at the Texas A&M College of Pharmacy have investigated the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, and discovered that when processed to a special nanoparticle formulation that boosts absorption, this natural compound is safe and effective at managing uveitis without any known side effects.

Though the nanoparticle formulation of curcumin used by Scott in her research is not yet available to the public, she is optimistic that her findings will lead to advances in the management of uveitis for both humans and dogs.

For now, pet owners who suspect their dog is suffering from uveitis should contact their veterinarian, who will help determine the most current and best path of treatment for their furry friend.

“This formulation is something to look for in the future, as further testing is necessary for us to confirm our findings. At this time, pet owners should follow the recommendations of their veterinary care professional,” Scott said, “We do hope to start a clinical trial with this new medication in the near future.”

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FAQ’s About Uveitis in Dogs:

When properly treated, most cases of uveitis begin to improve within twenty-four hours, but the ultimate outcome will depend on the underlying cause. If the eye is very cloudy or if hemorrhage has occurred, this may take a few more days to clear.

An autoimmune or inflammatory disorder that affects other parts of the body, such as sarcoidosis, ankylosing spondylitis, systemic lupus erythematosus or Crohn's disease. An infection, such as cat-scratch disease, herpes zoster, syphilis, toxoplasmosis or tuberculosis. Medication side effect. Eye injury or surgery.

Causes of Uveitis

Inflammation is the body's natural response to some sort of trauma, which can include injury, exposure to toxins or infection, and disease. White blood cells flood the eye, causing heat and swelling and often tissue damage. The body's immune system tries to fight off whatever is causing the problem.

Acute anterior uveitis may occur in one or both eyes and in adults is characterized by eye pain, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, a small pupil, and redness. Intermediate uveitis causes blurred vision and floaters. Usually, it is not associated with pain. Posterior uveitis can produce vision loss.

Anterior uveitis will typically go away within a few days with treatment. Uveitis that affects the back of the eye, or posterior uveitis, typically heals more slowly than uveitis that affects the front of the eye. Relapses are common.

Uveitis symptoms may occur quickly in an acute form (lasts less than six weeks) or slowly in a chronic form (lasts longer than six weeks). These symptoms may get worse fast, and also may affect one or both eyes. The signs and symptoms of uveitis include Eye redness.

Uveitis is generally not a medical emergency unless there is an acute, painful red eye or the eye pressure is dangerously high. In such emergent cases, treatment can be sought with a general ophthalmologist for immediate control of inflammation and eye pressure.

Treatments of uveitis may include:

Prescription eye drops in combination with anti-inflammatory medications. Eye drops may not penetrate well to the back of the eye, so this type of treatment may not work in posterior uveitis.

Ocular anti-inflammatory injections - injections may be to the outside or inside of the eye. This treatment may be uncomfortable, yet very effective in acute episodes of uveitis.

Systemic or oral administration of steroids, other immunosuppressant or anti-metabolite drugs.

Surgical procedures may be needed to replace the vitreous (or gel-like area) or to implant a device in the eye for slow-release of corticosteroid medication

Some medications can have serious side effects. Follow-up exams, including eye exams and possible blood tests, are important and maybe needed every 1-3 months. Talk to your eye care professional about any concerns you have.

A uveitis diagnosis requires a thorough examination by an ophthalmologist, including a detailed look into your past and present health history.
The type of eye examinations used to establish a uveitis diagnosis is;
  1. an eye chart or visual acuity test,
  2. a funduscopic exam,
  3. ocular pressure test,
  4. a slit lamp exam.

There are at least two possible causal interactions between stress and uveitisstress may be a risk factor for inducing the onset of uveitis; or a reaction to the symptoms and limitations imposed by uveitis itself, such as decreased visual acuity.

Social security has created a list of conditions that are considered disabling, without further analysis into the individual physical or mental capabilities. While uveitis in and of itself is not considered a listed condition, the vision loss you may suffer would be.

“Typically uveitis is more of a deep pain, and you'll feel very, very light sensitive,” says Dr. Werner. But milder cases might be easier to ignore or to delay seeking care for.

The mean duration of visual loss was 21 months. Of the 148 patients with pan-uveitis, 125 (84.45%) had reduced vision, with 66 (53%) having vision ⩽6/60. Main causes of visual loss were cystoid macular oedema (CMO) (59/220, 26.8%), cataract (39/220, 17.7%), and combination of CMO and cataract (44/220, 20%).

In a recent paper published in Science Advances, Scott and her colleagues at the Texas A&M College of Pharmacy tested the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, and discovered that when processed to a special nanoparticle formulation to boost absorption, this natural compound is safe.


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