Home > Common Eye Conditions > Iritis Explained

Iritis Explained

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 5 Jun 2014 | comments*Discuss
Iritis; Inflammation; Infection;

Iritis is an eye condition occurring when the iris becomes irritated and inflamed. Around the pupil in the eye is the coloured muscular membrane called the iris. This area is responsible for contracting and relaxing when light becomes brighter and darker and protects the pupil from light damage.

What Causes Iritis?

In many cases of iritis the cause is not known and it may simply be a one off occurrence.For others there may be a number of reasons why the inflammation has occurred.It may be possible that other medical conditions have contributed to the development of the inflammation and diseases and illnesses such as ankylosing spondylitits, psoriasis, Reiter syndrome and tuberculosis have been found to be factors.

Another common cause is because of a trauma to the eye. This may be a blunt trauma, the introduction of a foreign body or injury causes by something sharp. In many of these cases an infection can quickly develop or a particle of a foreign body may be left in the eye and often a professional should examine the eye to make sure there are no fragments remaining.

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of iritis can increase and worsen quite quickly and the most common signs of inflammation are:
  • Blurred vision
  • An aversion to light
  • Redness and irritation around the iris and pupil, occasionally the shape of the pupil may appear different than normal and sometimes a headache can occur.

With any of these symptoms pain or discomfort is common and this can range from a dull ache to episodes of acute pain in the eye.

Treatment For Iritis

In most cases of iritis a medical opinion and treatment will be needed to prevent long term damage.As soon as you have experienced any of the symptoms make an appointment to see your doctor.

It is recommended that Paracetamol or Ibuprofen is taken to reduce pain if it is felt necessary. Protect the eye from bright lights by wearing sunglasses when needed and rest when able.The most form of prescription to be offered to those with iritis is eye drops that are designed to help dilate the pupil allowing the iris to rest and heal. During this time the inflammation should begin to subside and healing can take place.

If the iritis has been proved not be to caused by an infection, it is also common for steroid preparations to be offered to help speed up the reduction of the inflammation. If an infection has caused the problem antibiotic eye-drops may be used to fight the spread of infection and kills any bacterial agents remaining in the eye.

Your doctor will probably want to examine your eye closely to ensure that there are no foreign bodies present that may cause further infection or injury.Your doctor will probably want to reassess your eye at a later date to ensure that the inflammation has subsided and that there is no underlying cause for the inflammation.

Iritis is a common but irritating condition that requires medical attention to prevent the spread of any infection and to decrease the inflammation of the iris.If you suffer from any of the mentioned symptoms, make an appointment to see your GP or seek advice from your optician.

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Thanks for that Sue, it's really useful to know about individual experiences and the advice to seek early medical help is important.
EyeHelp - 6-Jun-14 @ 11:31 AM
I have had iritus for 10 years, 17 years ago I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I have had both my eyes injected a few times, and have several flare ups each year, horrid disease, never let it bother me though and early treatment is key, it's also important to manage as the steroids caused me secondary glaucoma. I have to have 6 monthly field vision tests as I havelost 59% of my peripheral vision.Mainly because I thought the headache would go away in a few days. Get it looked at, there is a reason they give you emergency apps and see you on the day x•))
Sue - 5-Jun-14 @ 10:54 PM
I've had iritis twice previously and just been diagnosed with another dose.Same eye each time.Last time it was extremely painful, a pain I'm sure other sufferers know only too well - like a hot finger poking into the side of my eye.Previously my GP thought it just an eye infection and it was only when it got worse he sent me to the hospital - eye clinic.There it was diagnosed and I was told in future don't bother going to your GP, just go straight to an optician.Apparently many GP's are not familiar with it but opticians are and can refer you straight to an eye clinic.This is what I've done this time and I'm glad I have.Agree with one of the previous comments, time is of the essence.The longer you leave it the worse the pain gets and the higher the risk of permanent damage.It's re-assuaring to read the other comments on this.
Chris - 14-Aug-12 @ 5:39 PM
I got diagnosed with Traumatic Iritis two days ago. Never had it before and don't want it again. I've been finding it hard to explain to work what I'm experiencing. My vision is blurred due to my pupil being dilated, can't walk outside when it's sunny, and am using steroid eye drops to ease the pain and reduce the swelling, this worked yesterday as I couldn't feel a thing, today was ok but this evening I can feel my eye, everytime I blink I can feel a scratching feeling on my eye and noticed that my Iris has started to fade in colour. I had a dull ache in my eye for a few days thinking it was the start of a migraine (this is how mine start), but the headaches didn't start, then a couple of days back my eye got very sore in the space of an hour, initially thought it was Conjunctivitis. Reading these posts was comforting to know that other people know what I'm experiencing and that I'm not alone.
Phil - 9-Feb-12 @ 12:38 AM
I have been suffering with iritis on and off all this year.I am now to have a scan to look at the back of the eye to see what is going on.Has anybody else had this and did it prove any help ?
JANET SANDS - 11-Oct-11 @ 9:54 AM
I have been getting Iritis for the last 3-4 years. I have been tested by my GP for everything but there is no explanation. I have had 4 flare ups in the last 12 months. I am on a waiting list to see a specialist, my doctor referred me last September and I'm still waiting for an appointment! It is a nightmare. I find I seem to get it after a period of stress. Once I am not stressed and getting on with life, iritis happens.
Clair - 7-May-11 @ 10:02 PM
Oh boy! I have chronic iritus - started with a late diagnosed case 7 years ago and had to have power steriod injections into both lower eyelids. Then on reoccurances I went up A&E very quickly and have managed outbreaks on predforte drops. Hadn;t had outbreak for over 2 years but did have a bad case of Reactive arthritis - linked apparently. This time I wasn't so prompt and not given strong enough drops -iritis has spread to back of eye resulting in steriod injection today. Hopefully now on the mend but I have sore, dry right eye and cloudy vision this time. Lesson learned - time is of the essence.
hetty - 28-Mar-11 @ 7:57 PM
I attended the eye clinic on 15 March 2011, to start treament of the early onset of Iritis. There seems to be no pattern to this, or any real reason why this should flare up.I had it once a year, for the last 6 six years, but did not have it last year. It can be any month of the year, in either eye. Had treatment for just over a week now. Still feeling rubbish, but hopefully, as I caught it early, the symptons, which are being treated with Maxidex steroid drops on a reducing dose, will subside. Although I do not wish this condition on anybody, it is a comfort to know that I am not alone.
Trish - 24-Mar-11 @ 10:19 AM
Hi, I was diagnosed with Iritis last Tuesday. After having what I thought was migrains for weeks beforehand. My eye began hurting on friday 11th March. I went to my GP on Monday 14th and was diagnosed as having "cluster headaches" I was then rushed to A&E later that night and then referred to the eye casualty the next day. There I was diagnosed with severe iritis. I was put on dialating drops, steroid drops and ointment. These where uneffective for me. At my appointment on Monday 21st March I was given a steroid injection in my eye. It wasn't painful but was extremely uncomfortable afterwards. I was also given stronger drops and ointment. That was yersterday, and today I feel 100 times better. I look like I've been the through the wars but I'm just relieved I'm not in agony! I have a follow up appointment tomorrow to check if it's been successful. Fingers crossed.
Lisa - 22-Mar-11 @ 4:56 PM
Iritis is a very uncomfortable and painful eye condition.My first experience with Iritis occured when I was 15, and was in one eye. The problem re-occured in one or both eyes, strangely at three year intervals, until I reached the age of 51. Touch wood I have never had it since. I am now 66. I can recall my first visit to the Eye Hostpital, when I was 15, and being asked by the specialist; have you ever had Syphilis? I replied that I had never had it, full stop. I remember having to use eye drops called Atropin which caused the pupil to dilate, and Cortisone. I hope that I never experience this disease again. At a recent eye examination, my optician confirmed, that my eyes had not been damaged as a result of this disease.
Bernie - 22-Mar-11 @ 10:16 AM
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