Iritis can start out with minor symptoms such as pain and light sensitivity, but it’s actually a very serious condition. Without treatment, you may experience serious complications such as glaucoma or even vision loss. To help you know what to look out for and what to do, we’re covering the symptoms, causes, and treatments for iritis in Knoxville, TN.
Iritis causes the anterior uvea of the eye to become inflamed. Common symptoms include sensitivity to light, eye pain, redness, and reduced vision. While there is no one cause of iritis, it has been connected to trauma, infections, and genetics. It is diagnosed with a comprehensive eye exam and treated with medicated eye drops or oral medications.
What Is Iritis?
Also known as anterior uveitis, iritis is the swelling and inflammation of your iris. The iris is the colored part of your eye and controls the pupil, which adjusts its size to allow more light in. It becomes larger in low light and smaller in bright light.
The uvea is the middle layer of the eye between the white part of the eye and the retina. It’s comprised of the ciliary body, the choroid, and the iris in the front part (anterior) of the uvea. Uveitis is inflammation of any part of this tissue. Iritis involves inflammation of the anterior uvea, or iris specifically. Although there are multiple types of uveitis, such as posterior uveitis, iritis is the most common form.
To learn more about the role your genetics play in eye diseases, click here!
Symptoms of Iritis
Common symptoms of iritis include:
- Light sensitivity
- Discomfort, achiness, or eye pain
- Reduced vision
- Redness of the eye
Iritis often develops rapidly and can last for months. This is known as acute iritis and can develop over the span of days or even hours. Iritis that lasts longer than three months is known as chronic iritis. Iritis may come once and never recur in the future or it may be recurrent. Those with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis are prone to uveitis that does not cause pain and may be mistaken for pink eye.
Click here to learn more about pink eye (conjunctivitis)!
When To See a Doctor About Iritis
Iritis can result in glaucoma or even vision loss if left untreated. This makes it incredibly important to seek treatment immediately if you begin to experience symptoms of iritis. This can help your Knoxville eye doctor diagnose your condition and provide the much-needed treatment you need to preserve your sight.
Other possible complications of iritis include:
- Irregularly-shaped pupil
- Calcium deposits on the cornea
- Swollen retina (macular edema)
Talking to one of our ophthalmologists is the best way to prevent these health conditions stemming from untreated iritis.
What Causes Iritis?
While the actual cause of iritis is not always known, experts have found it can result from another underlying condition or even be due to genetics. Oftentimes, the root cause of an individual case can’t be determined. However, common causes of iritis include:
- Eye trauma
- Behcet’s disease
- Certain medications
Eye trauma such as blunt force, a penetrating injury, or a burn can lead to acute iritis. Viral infections such as shingles and cold sores have also been known to cause it. Those with certain genetic markers can develop autoimmune diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis, or inflammatory bowel disease, increasing their risk of developing acute iritis.
While uncommon in Western countries, Behcet’s disease can lead to joint problems and mouth sores as well as iritis. The autoimmune disease sarcoidosis results in collections of inflamed cells growing in your body, including the eyes. Certain medications including some antibiotics, antivirals, and occasionally bisphosphonates for osteoporosis can lead to iritis.
Your eye doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam to confirm that you are suffering from iritis. This includes:
- An external exam
- A visual acuity exam
- A slit-lamp exam
Your ophthalmologist may use a penlight during your external exam to observe your pupils, look for patterns of redness, and check for discharge from your eyes. The visual acuity test checks the sharpness of your vision using an eye chart and other tools. The slit-lamp exam uses a lighted microscope and dilating eye drops to view inside your eye for signs of iritis.
Treatments for iritis are designed to relieve pain and inflammation as well as preserve your vision. When associated with an underlying condition, the conditions will also need to be treated so that you can recover properly.
Common treatments for iritis include:
- Steroid eye drops
- Dilating eye drops
Steroid eye drops are made of glucocorticoid medications to help reduce inflammation due to iritis. Dilating eye drops also help reduce pain along with protecting you from any complications that could interfere with the function of your pupil.
However, medicated eye drops don’t always rid you of iritis. In these cases, oral medications may be prescribed to help clear up your condition. Depending on your individual case, these medications may include steroids or other anti-inflammatory ingredients.
Are you suffering from symptoms of iritis? Contact us today to schedule your appointment!
Inflammation of the uvea is known as iritis. Common symptoms of the condition include redness, eye pain, sensitivity to light, and reduced vision. Iritis can have many causes including eye trauma, infection, genetics, and even certain medications. It is diagnosed with a comprehensive eye exam and treated with medicated eye drops or oral medications.