The iris is the coloured ring that surrounds the pupil (the opening in the center) of the eye. It is a circular, pigmented membrane in the eye that provides the eye with its colour. It is made of muscular fibers that control how much light is entering the pupil so that a person can see clearly. This task is accomplished by the iris that is making the pupil smaller when the light is bright and larger when it is dark.
Iritis is an infection of the iris in the eye. It is a kind of uveitis, sometimes called anterior uveitis, as the iris is a part of the middle layer of the eye which is called uvea.
Iritis sometimes is caused by a hidden condition or a generic factor, but generally the cause is unknown.
Iritis should be treated promptly, as it is a serious condition that can lead to glaucoma or even loss of vision.
If the patient has some of the following signs or simptoms it is important to visit the doctor as soon as possible:
- Light sensitivity (photophobia)
- Pain (worsen especially when exposed to bright light)
- Redness of the eye (especially near to the iris)
- Blurry vision
- Spots in the vision
There are two types of iritis, acute iritis that develops suddenly over hours or days, and chronic iritis that develops gradually or lasts longer than six weeks.
It is important to visit a specialist as soon as a person notices some of these symptoms in order to prevent serious complications.
Very often, the causes of iritis aren’t obvious. However, this condition can be connected to eye trauma, genetic factors or some diseases. The known reasons that cause iritis are:
- Eye injury-trauma, strong injury, chemical or fire burn
- Inflamation-herpes zoster, or also: toxoplasmosis, histoplasmosis, tuberculosis and syphilis
- Genetic predisposition-people that develop certain autoimmune diseases (such as: ankylosing spondylitis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriatic arthritis, Reiter’s syndrome) because of gene alteration that affect the immune system
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
- Some medications.
The risk to develop iritis is higher if:
- A patient has a compromised immune system os some kind of autoimmune disorder
- A patient has a specific genetic modification
- A patient suffers from sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis or HIV/AIDs
- A patient lives in an area with prevailing infection causes
Iritis can develop into some of the following complications, if not promptly and efficiently treated:
- Irregularly shaped pupil
- Cataract (especially if the inflammatory period was long)
- Glaucoma (increased eye pressure and possibility of loss of vision)
- Band keratophaty-calcium deposit on the cornea
- Cystoid macular edema-swelling within the retina
Usually, in order to reduce the infection, relieve from the pain and preserve the vision, some of the following treatments are recommended:
- Steroid eyedrops-medications in the form of eyedrops that diminish the infection
- Dilating eyedrops-eyedrops that dilate the pupil, reduce the pain and protect from further complications
However, if the condition is not getting better, or unfortunately gets worse, the doctor may prescribe oral medications as well.
A patient could also:
- Wear dark glasses if the pain is worsen by the light
- Take mild analgesics to lessen the discomfort