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Your Eyes and Iritis

Iritis Overview

The iris is a circular, pigmented membrane that provides the eye its color and the opening in the center is the pupil of the eye.

The iris is made up of muscular fibers that control the amount of light entering the pupil so that you can see clearly. The iris accomplishes this task by making the pupil smaller in bright light and larger in dim light.

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In some people, the iris can become inflamed. This is termed iritis.

Iritis Causes

Iritis may be a consequence of trauma (traumatic iritis) or nontraumatic causes:

In a large number of cases, no cause for iritis is found.

Iritis Symptoms

Iritis usually develops quickly and generally affects only one eye. Signs and symptoms may include any or all of the following:

  • Pain in the eye or brow region
  • Worsened eye pain when exposed to bright light
  • Reddened eye, especially adjacent to the iris
  • Small or funny shaped pupil
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache

When to Seek Medical Care for Iritis

Notify your eye doctor if any of the following signs or symptoms of iritis are present:

  • Eye pain, including pain associated with bright light
  • Blurred vision
  • Redness in the eye, especially near the iris

If you cannot reach your eye doctor, then seek medical attention at a hospital's emergency department.

Questions to Ask the Doctor About Iritis

If you've been diagnosed with iritis, these are questions you may want to ask your doctor:

  • Are there any signs of permanent damage to the eye?
  • Are there any signs of permanent vision loss?
  • What should I expect as my eye heals?
  • What symptoms should I call you about between visits?

 

Iritis Exams and Tests

The diagnosis of iritis is confirmed by examining the eye with a slit lamp (a special microscope designed for eye exams). Your ophthalmologist can see cells (white blood cells) and flare (particles of protein) in the fluid that is produced in the eye.

Two other physical exam findings aid your eye doctor in diagnosing iritis. They include:

  • Topical anesthetics do not relieve the pain associated with iritis.
  • Shining light in the normal, unaffected eye causes pain in the affected eye if iritis is present. This is because shining light in one eye causes both pupils to constrict. Movement of the affected iris causes pain.

 

Iritis Treatment at Home

Iritis requires prescription medications and follow-up visits with your eye doctor, so seeking medical care is very important.

  • Use prescription medications exactly as prescribed.
  • Wear dark glasses if light worsens your eye pain.
  • Take mild analgesics, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil), to help control some of the discomfort.

 

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