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Iritis: What You Need to Know

Iritis is the irritation and swelling of the ring around the pupil. Iritis can be caused by many different situational factors, but may also be associated with other systemic and inflammatory diseases. Typically, iritis is easy to treat with various medications, however, if left untreated, iritis can cause permanent loss of sight. 

What Is Iritis?

Iritis is one of a group of eye conditions commonly termed, “red eye.” Iritis is the irritation (swelling and inflammation) of the iris, the colored ring around the eye’s pupil. This condition may also be called anterior uveitis. Iritis can be caused by ocular trauma, but can also be associated with other systemic and inflammatory diseases. Roughly half of the cases of iritis have no known cause.

What Are the Symptoms, Causes & Risk Factors of Iritis?

Symptoms of iritis can emerge quickly over the course of a few days or even as little as a few hours. Redness, blurred vision, eye pain, and sensitivity to light are all symptoms of iritis. You can experience iritis only once, or you may find that you have a recurring case. 

Iritis is more prevalent in those with certain genetic traits, though nearly half of all cases of iritis have no disease associations. The other cases have a connection to several different systemic, often inflammatory, diseases including juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, lupus, scleroderma, Bechet’s disease, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, Reiter’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Your eye care specialist will need to confirm if iritis is a manifestation of one of these diseases or if it can be connected to another underlying systemic or infectious disease. 

Inflammation of the iris can also be caused by eye injury, infections from bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi. Iritis can also be caused by a reaction to medication. Because the causes for iritis are so wide-reaching, the cause in many cases can not be determined. 

Your risk for having iritis is elevated if you have any health issue that may cause iritis, if you are genetically predisposed to iritis, or if you are female. 

What to Expect from Diagnosis and Screening for Iritis

Your eye care specialist may ask for a detailed medical history and/or take some blood tests, chest x-rays, lower-back x-rays, and possibly a tuberculosis skin test to help determine if your iritis is a sign of some other underlying condition. 

What Are the Medications and Treatments for Iritis?

The symptoms of iritis can typically be treated and will respond well to medication. Medications for iritis varies depending on the diagnosis and cause of the inflammation. Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat any bacterial infection present in the eye. If the iritis is caused by a viral infection, antivirals may be administered. Your eye care professional may prescribe steroid medications or drops to treat the inflammation. Or you may be given dilating eye drops to prevent further complications and reduce pain. These medications may be given to you in drops or oral form, or may be administered through and IV or shot. 

Treatment that works for one individual may not work for another. If left untreated, iritis can cause severe vision loss and possible blindness. 

How Tucker & Associates Can Help 

If you have red, itchy, inflamed eyes and are experiencing blurred vision, eye pain and sensitivity to light, call Tucker & Associates today. Our experienced eye care professionals will be happy to conduct a comprehensive eye exam to find out what is causing your irritation and pain and to lay out a complete treatment plan to meet your eye health needs. 

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