Iritis refers to the inflammation of the iris. The iris is described as a colored ring that surrounds the pupil of your eye. The iris is part of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye, which becomes inflamed when iritis occurs. This is why it is also called uveitis. Due to the fact the iris is situated before the uvea, it is termed as anterior uveitis.
The exact cause of iritis is still not known, however, some believe it may occur due to an underlying health problem or a genetic cause.
If left untreated, iritis can result in glaucoma or blindness. If you suspect you have iritis, see your doctor as soon as possible for a diagnosis and treatment.
Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms of iritis include:
- Redness of the eyes – the white of the eye may appear to be bluish-pink around the iris
- Blurred vision
- Achiness and discomfort in the affected eye
- Photophobia or sensitivity to light
- Seeing floaters
Normally, iritis is not concerned with the discharge from the eyes.
When symptoms occur suddenly, within a few hours or days, it is described as acute iritis. If symptoms gradually develop or persist for more than six weeks, the condition is called chronic iritis.
When to seek medical attention
See an eye specialist or ophthalmologist as soon as possible once you discover symptoms of iritis. Immediate treatment is necessary if you want to prevent serious complications associated with iritis and vision. If you have vision problems and eye pain accompanied with other symptoms, emergency medical attention may be necessary.
Treatment mainly focuses on preserving normal vision and resolving symptoms such as pain due to iritis.
Usually treatment options for iritis include the following measures:
- Steroid eye drops. Eye drops are usually glucocorticoid medications that relieve inflammation due to iritis. These eye drops help in stabilizing the cellular membranes of the eye, thereby, minimizing the circulation of white cells to inhibit inflammation
- Dilating eye drops. Dilating eye drops are cycloplegics medications that play a role in dilating the pupil of the eye. This can reduce pain caused by iritis. Moreover, dilating the pupil can also prevent adhesions from developing under the iris, which may result in more severe complications such as glaucoma
- Antibiotic eye drops. In case of a bacterial infection associated with iritis, your doctor may prescribe relevant antibiotics to correct the problem
If symptoms do not resolve, or worsen with treatment, you may be prescribed to take oral medication consisting of anti-inflammatory agents and steroids. However, oral medication can not only affect your eyes, but your body as well. Therefore, your doctor will keep in mind the entire condition before prescribing oral medicines.