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Iritis - Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Updated on July 11, 2014

Iritis Pictures

What is Iritis?

Iritis is defined as the inflammation of the iris or that part of the eye that is characterized as colored ring of tissue surrounding the pupil. Iritis is among the anatomical classification of "Uveitis" which is an inflammation of the Uvea that includes the iris as among its structural component.

Iritis is a classification of Uveitis and is classified as "anterior uveitis" defining the part of the eye that is affected by the inflammation and which is limited to the iris. Iritis is characterized by redness of the eye in varying degree and is often associated with pain, blurry vision and increased sensitivity to light.

The iris is the pigmented part of the eye and is a flat ring that separates the anterior chamber of the eye to the posterior chamber. It is embedded with tiny muscles that allow the pupil located in the center of the iris to control the light that reaches the retina of the eye. It is a circular structure that possesses colors which in human may be in green, hazel, brown, violet and blue. The colors of the iris on the other hand came from the melanin which determines the color of the iris depending on the amount of the pigment that is present. The iris is also composed of the three layers called the endothelium, stroma and the epithelium.

The inflammation of the iris is not uncommon and the inflammation of the iris alone is referred to as Iritis. The incidence is more common in people between the ages of 20 to 50 years without racial and sexual predilection. No mortality has been determined by the incidence but morbidity has been related with the sticking together of the iris and the lens which is potential for high intraocular pressure that may later result in loss of the optic nerve.

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of iritis typically occur suddenly with rapid progression over the period of a few hours to several days while iritis can be chronic. It is the most common type of uveitis that generally affects the anterior part of the eye. Iritis is usually asymptomatic when it is secondary to a systemic disease such as "Juvenile idiopathic arthritis". Asymptomatic iritis is only determined when vision loss already occurred. The incidence of iritis may occur in one eye or it may affect both eyes. It is not a life threatening condition but iritis is a serious condition that requires medical attention and careful monitoring by an eye doctor to promptly treat the condition and prevent its complications.

Iritis is a serious eye condition that the onset of signs and symptoms should prompt an affected individual to seek medical attention.

General signs and symptoms of Iritis include the following:

  • Redness of the eye particularly in the white portion or the sclera that surrounds the iris
  • Pain and discomfort in the affected eye that usually develop over a period of a few hours to several days
  • Headache
  • Pupil of the affected eye is irregular in shape or may be smaller in size compared to the healthy eye
  • Increased sensitivity to light or photophobia
  • Change in vision often a blurry vision
  • Floaters or vision of small dots that are moving around the field may be experienced
  • Excessive tearing is also noticeable although Iritis is usually not associated with discharge from the affected eye.

Acute iritis is defined as the sudden onset of signs and symptoms with progression of the disease that is usually rapid. Chronic iritis on the other hand is the gradual onset of signs and symptoms and which usually lasts for more than six weeks.

Causes

The exact cause of Iritis has not been determined although several causes are being considered to trigger the inflammation of the iris of the eye.

  • Direct injury to the eye such as a blunt trauma, penetrating injury and burn either thermal or chemical are considered as among the causes of inflammation of the iris.
  • Medications have also been implicated in the onset of iritis. There are certain medications or drugs that can result to Iritis often as an adverse effect.
  • Genetic factor particularly an alteration in the HLA-B27 gene is also considered a cause of Iritis. A HLA-B27 gene is a gene that is vital to the immune system and its function in the body.
  • Infection is also another factor implicated in the onset of iritis. Shingles or an infection with Herpes zoster commonly causes iritis especially if the skin eruption on the face is present. Several diseases and autoimmune diseases can also result to inflammation of the iris of the eye and such include the following:
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a type of arthritis that is common in children. It is also known as Juvenile idiopathic arthritis and is one of the most common causes of iritis among children.
  • Bechet’s disease is a condition characterized by joint problems, genital lesions and mouth sores. It is considered as one of the causes of Iritis although this disease seldom results in inflammation of the iris.

Treatment

The treatment of Iritis depends on the severity and its cause while the goal of treatment is to relieve the patient from symptoms while preserving the vision or preventing any irreversible damage to the eye which can bring on permanent damage to the visual ability of the affected individual.

Medication is the primary treatment for Iritis which may include topical medication and oral medication or a combination of both. Surgery is indicated for Iritis complicated by the development of cataract and glaucoma that cannot be treated conservatively.

  • Topical steroid eye drop is the initial treatment for Iritis such as the prescription of Glucocorticoid which acts by reducing the inflammation.
  • Dilating eye drops such as Cycloplegics is prescribed to relieve the pain associated with Iritis. This medication can also help in preventing the adhesion of the lens and the iris.
  • Antibiotics are another treatment which may be given as eye drops or as an oral medication is prescribed for Iritis that resulted from infection.
  • Steroid treatment may also be given orally or may also be injected. This is also another form of treatment to reduce the inflammation of the iris of the eye.

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