University of Iowa Health Care

Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

TB Uveitis

48-year-old African American female with complaint of photophobia, tearing, and eye pain in both eyes

Andrew Doan, MD, PhD, Ayad Farjo, MD

February 21, 2005

Chief Complaint: 48-year-old African American female with complaint of photophobia, tearing, and eye pain in both eyes.

History of Present Illness: 48-year-old AA HIV(+) female with 1 month of gradual photophobia, tearing, and eye pain in both eyes. She was started on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) 1 year ago when her CD4 count was <50. After starting ART, her CD4 count has been above 250. She was doing well until one month ago when she complained of increasing redness and eye pain in both eyes. On presentation, she was photophobic.

No complaint of fevers, chills, or night sweats. No joint pains. No shortness of breath. No other complaints. No recent exposures to illnesses.

PMH: HIV(+) on antiretroviral therapy. TB test performed one year previous was negative, but the candida control was also negative. No previous ocular problems.


  • Best corrected visual acuities: 20/50 OD and 20/40 OS.
  • Pupils: irregularly shaped (see photo), reactive, no RAPD.
  • IOP: normal
  • EOM: full OU
  • VF: normal
  • DFE: retina exam notable for normal macula, vessels, and periphery OU. No vitreous cells.
  • SLE: notable for marked conjunctival injection OU, ciliary flush OU, 2+ cell/flare OU, and large keratic precipitates (KP) on the corneal endothelium OU. There was central posterior synechia around the pupil margin OU.

SLE Photo of the right eye (left eye similar)

SLE Photo of the right eye denoting some "mutton fat" KP (higher magnification)
Mutton Fat KP


Tuberculosis Uveitis

This is a patient with HIV and an anergic TB skin test one year previous when her CD4 count was low. After starting ART, she was doing well until her granulomatous (mutton fat) uveitis developed. We know this process was long standing because of the central posterior synechiae (pupil being tacked down to the anterior lens capsule by inflammation). We repeated a TB skin test, and it was POSITIVE because now she had a reconstituted immune system to mount a skin response. We also worked her up for syphilis and sarcoid, which were negative. In an HIV patient, the uveitis can be a result of immune reconstitution syndrome (patients are usually much more ill) or from the original HIV infection. The latter is a diagnosis of exclusion.

We referred this patient to internal medicine/infectious disease for treatment. We started her on prednisolone drops (steroid for inflammation) and homatropine or scopolamine (dilation and cycloplegic to prevent further synechial formation and for comfort- it's best to use an intermediate cycloplegic so the pupil can react to prevent peripheral anterior synechiae formation).

Diagnosis: Granulomatous Uveitis


  • Variable due to numerous etiologies


  • mutton fat KP
  • anterior segment cell and flare
  • conjunctival/episcleral injection
  • may be associated with an anterior vitritis from spill over
  • synechiae formation
  • Koeppe nodules (cluster of cells on pupil margin)
  • Busacca nodules (cluster of cells on iris)


  • Photophobia
  • Tearing
  • Decreased vision
  • Pain


  • cycloplegic, scopolamine 0.25% BID
  • prednisolone acetate 1% every 1-4 hours
  • treat secondary glaucoma
  • treat underlying disorder
  • periocular injection of steroids may be needed for severe cases not responding to topical managment.

Differential Diagnoses:

  • Sarcoidosis
  • Syphilis
  • Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome (associated with posterior retinal findings, poliosis, vitiligo, and sometimes hypopyon)
  • Sympathetic ophthalmia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Herpes zoster
  • Coccidioidomycosis
  • Leprosy
  • Toxoplasmosis (usually associated with a posterior uveitis)
  • Brucellosis
  • Idiopathic (includes immune reconstitution syndrome and HIV uveitis)

Suggested citation format:

Doan A, Farjo A: TB Uveitis: 48-year-old African American female with complaint of photophobia, tearing, and eye pain in both eyes. February 21, 2005; Available from:

last updated: 02-21-2005
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