Uveitis and Inflammatory Disease

The uveitis and inflammatory disease clinic at OHSU Casey Eye Institute offers cutting edge care for both children and adults who have inflammatory diseases in the eye or the area around the eye. Our doctors and team members provide personalized care to protect your eye health and prevent vision loss due to inflammatory eye diseases.

We specialize in the treatment of scleritis, orbital inflammation, mucous membrane pemphigoid, and all forms of infectious and non-infectious uveitis, including inflammatory disease in the eye and systemic inflammatory and infectious diseases in other parts of the body.

Our expertise

Our doctors are specialists in treating and diagnosing inflammatory eye disease using the latest technology and treatment options. We offer: 

  • Board-certified and fellowship trained specialists ​​who have the advanced training and experience for these rare and complex conditions
  • Experience with complex cases, including  experience caring for adults with medical and surgical retinal diseases and rheumatology conditions, and children with uveitis.
  • Treatment options designed for you because we have the ability to use topical, injected, or systemic immune suppressive therapy if needed.
  • Leaders in the field, which means you receive care from internationally known doctors who and lecture nationally and internationally on the latest in treatment and research.
  • Innovative research and access to clinical trials to learn more about uveitis, study new treatments and offer our patients the most advanced options.

Our doctors

    • Eric B. Suhler, M.D., M.P.H.
    • Professor of Ophthalmology and Public Health
    • Ophthalmology and Uveitis and Ocular Immunology Portland
    • Accepting new patients

Coordinated care

We may work with other specialists to provide the best care for you eyes when your condition is complex. We offer:

  • Our experts work together with other eye specialists, including our comprehensive cataract surgeons, retina, pediatric and glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology and oculoplastics doctors to medically and surgically care for patients with challenging conditions.
  • If the patient is your child, we work closely with the Elks Children's Eye Clinic pediatric ophthalmologists to co-manage the child's care. 
  • We work closely with adult and pediatric rheumatologists if you have a systemic inflammatory disease

Research and innovation

Research: Our doctors are also world-renowned for their contributions to basic laboratory research in the field of uveitis and ocular inflammatory disease, where their research is helping clinicians and scientists alike understand why patients develop uveitis and other inflammatory diseases.  This knowledge will be crucial in advancing our ability  to diagnose and treat uveitis and ocular inflammatory diseases patients in the future and in developing better treatments in the future. Learn more.

Clinical trials: Our center is one of the leading uveitis clinical trial groups in the country.  We have taken part in the design, conduct, and analysis of some of the biggest and most influential clinical trials in uveitis over the last three decades.   We have particular expertise in the area of biologic drugs for the treatment of uveitis, where our study group has conducted and published some of the earliest and most influential clinical trial results in this area. Learn more.

Learn more about uveitis

Uveitis is a group of disorders that result in inflammation to the inner layers of the eye, which may lead to ocular damage and loss of vision if not effectively treated.  

Uveitis is a descriptive term that refers to inflammation within the eye. The uvea includes the iris at the front of the eye, the ciliary body and the choroid toward the back of the eye. The uvea is very important because its many veins and arteries transport blood to the parts of the eye that are critical for vision. Because uveitis is serious, treatment needs to begin right away. For uveitis not caused by an infection, your ophthalmologist may prescribe eye drops containing steroids to reduce swelling and drugs to relieve pain. Antibiotics are used in patients with infectious uveitis. Dark glasses will help if your eyes are sensitive to light.

Complications of uveitis may include glaucoma, cataracts, abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eyes that interfere with vision, fluid within the retina and vision loss. Early diagnosis and treatment by your ophthalmologist is critical.

Everyone is different. This means that treatment is individually tailored to each patient's needs. Designing the best-tolerated and most effective therapy may require some trial and error, because each patient is unique.

Treating inflammation is like dousing a fire. Often, relatively high doses of medication are prescribed at first as we try to reduce inflammation. However, many types of inflammation resist--the flames aren't out completely. When treatment appears to reduce or eliminate the inflammation completely, medication is usually stopped gradually to make sure the flames are indeed out.

Various medications have different degrees of potential risk. In general, the degree of risk that is appropriate depends on how severe the inflammation is and how much it impairs the patient's daily living. 

The least amount of medication is the best amount of medication. All medications have potential toxicity. The optimal dosage of medication is the lowest amount that controls the inflammatory process.

Medications that suppress the immune system don't work immediately. In general, medications such as methotrexate, imuran, cyclosporine and cytoxan take several weeks before you see improvement. Corticosteroid medications tend to work much faster in reducing the inflammatory response. 

Choosing the right treatment is like choosing what to eat from a restaurant menu. Your doctor's responsibility is to describe the options, their advantages and their risks. The best choice of therapy is very much a matter of personal preference, based on understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

It is not always possible to determine how successful therapy is. When you take a medication and visual acuity doesn't improve, it's possible that vision may have worsened significantly if the medication had not been taken. On the other hand, if you take a medication and your vision improves, it's conceivable that the improvement occurred on its own, without the use of the medication.