The uvea, also called the uveal layer, uveal coat, uveal tract, or vascular tunic, is the pigmented middle of the three concentric layers that make up an eye. The name is possibly a reference to its reddish-blue or almost black colour, wrinkled appearance and grape-like size and shape when stripped intact from a cadaveric eye. Its use as a technical term in anatomy and ophthalmology is relatively modern.
The uvea is the vascular middle layer of the eye. It is traditionally divided into three areas, from front to back, the:
The prime functions of the uveal tract as a unit are:
Nutrition and gas exchange: uveal vessels directly perfuse the ciliary body and iris, to support their metabolic needs, and indirectly supply diffusible nutrients to the outer retina, sclera, and lens, which lack any intrinsic blood supply. (The cornea has no adjacent blood vessels and is oxygenated by direct gas exchange with the environment.) Light absorption: the uvea improves the contrast of the retinal image by reducing reflected light within the eye (analogous to the black paint inside a camera), and also absorbs outside light transmitted through the sclera, which is not fully opaque.