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Iritis facts

  • Iritis is an inflammatory condition of the eye which is usually easily treated, leaving no damage.
  • In rare cases, it may cause serious damage to the eye.
  • It must be evaluated and treated promptly by an ophthalmologist who will also seek and specific causes.

What is iritis?

Iritis is an inflammatory condition of the colored portion (the iris which surrounds the pupil) of the eye. It causes varying degrees of redness of the eye, often with significant pain, sensitivity to light, tearing, and blurred vision.

Iritis is the name commonly used for an internal inflamation of the eye. More properly it is called anterior uveitis. The uvea is the collective name for the pigmented portions of the interntal eye and includes the iris, the ciliary body and the choroid. When an inflammation affects primarily the iris and ciliary body it is often called iritis. The iris is the part of the eye which is visible in the mirror and gives the eye its color, usually blue or brown. The pupil is the opening in the iris through which light passes.

What causes iritis?

An infection of the eye or inflammation from trauma may cause iritis. Iritis may also be a complication of many diseases such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, tuberculosis, sarcoidosis, and collagen vascular diseases such as lupus. Iritis may occur with herpes simplex of the eye and after eye surgery. Iritis related to juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is especially dangerous and may not respond well to treatment, leading to serious eye damage. In children with arthritis, pain from iritis is often absent. Because of this, "simple" red eyes in these children should not be ignored. Iritis is not contagious. Iritis may occur in one or both eyes. In a large proportion of cases, no cause can be found, particularly if it is a new and isolated symptom. Recurrent or bilateral episodes are much more likely to be significant.


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