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Your Eyes and Iritis

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.

Medical Treatment of Iritis

Treatment of iritis includes the use of medication in the form of eye drops or pills to allow for healing and to help decrease eye pain.

Drugs to Treat Iritis

Treatment of iritis includes the use of a drug (in the form of eyedrops) to dilate (widen) the pupil and to prevent spasm of the iris muscles so that the inflamed iris can rest. This allows for healing and helps decrease the eye pain.

Steroid eyedrops are also prescribed unless an infectious agent (virus or bacteria) caused the iritis. Steroid eyedrops help decrease the inflammation of the iris. If the eye does not improve within a week, your eye doctor may consider prescribing steroid pills or steroid injections around the eye. The length of treatment depends on the severity of disease and how well the eye improves with the treatment.

Follow-Up Care for Iritis

In all cases of iritis, follow-up care with an eye care specialist is essential. In cases of nontraumatic iritis, your ophthalmologist will evaluate you for the presence of associated diseases.

Outlook for Iritis

Traumatic iritis usually goes away within one to two weeks. Nontraumatic iritis may take weeks, and occasionally months, to resolve.

Infectious cases of iritis will resolve once measures are taken to treat the infection.

Certain cases of iritis (those associated with systemic diseases, such as sarcoidosis or ankylosing spondylitis) may be chronic or recurrent.

Eye doctors may instruct certain people who are at high risk of having recurrent iritis to always have steroid eyedrops on hand so that they may begin using them at the first sign of a recurrence.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brian S. Boxer Wachler, MD on November 06, 2013
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