Iritis (i-RYE-tis) is inflammation that affects a part of your eye called the iris. The iris is the colored ring of tissue surrounding your pupil. It's part of the middle layer of the eye known as the uvea, which is why this condition is considered a type of uveitis (u-ve-I-tis), or inflammation of the uvea. Because the iris is located at the front of the uvea, iritis is sometimes called anterior uveitis.
The cause of iritis is often unknown. But sometimes, iritis results from an underlying condition or genetic factor.
Iritis is a serious condition that, if left untreated, could lead to glaucoma or blindness. If you have symptoms of iritis, see your doctor as soon as possible for evaluation and treatment.
Anatomy of the eye
Your eye is a complex and compact structure measuring about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter. It receives millions of pieces of information about the outside world, which are quickly processed by ...
Signs and symptoms of iritis may include:
Iritis usually isn't associated with discharge from the eyes.
When symptoms of iritis develop suddenly, over hours or days, this is referred to as acute iritis. Symptoms that develop gradually or last longer than six weeks indicate chronic iritis.
When to see a doctor
Often, the cause of iritis can't be determined. In some cases, however, iritis can be linked to eye trauma, genetic factors or certain diseases. Known causes of iritis include:
Eye with uvea
The uvea consists of the layer and structures of the eye beneath the white of the eye (sclera). It has three parts: (1) the iris, which is the colored part of the eye; (2) the choroid layer, which is ...
Your risk of developing iritis increases if you:
If not treated properly, iritis could lead to complications, including:
Preparing for your appointment
Make an appointment with a doctor who specializes in eye care — an optometrist or an ophthalmologist — who can evaluate iritis and perform a complete eye exam.
What you can do
Questions to ask your eye doctor
Questions your eye doctor may ask
Tests and diagnosis
Before diagnosing iritis, your eye doctor will conduct a complete eye exam, including:
If your eye doctor suspects that a disease or condition is causing your iritis, he or she may work closely with your primary care provider to pinpoint the underlying cause. In that case, further testing may include blood tests or X-rays to identify or rule out specific causes.
Treatments and drugs
The main goals in treating iritis are to preserve vision and relieve any pain associated with the condition.
Most often, treatment for iritis involves:
If your symptoms don't clear up, or seem to get worse, your eye doctor might prescribe oral medications that may include steroids or other anti-inflammatory agents. However, taking the medicine orally has the potential to affect not only your eyes, but other parts of your body as well. Your doctor will consider your overall condition before prescribing oral medications to treat your iritis.
Last Updated: 2011-02-10
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