Iris is the pigmented ring surrounding the pupil and is made up of muscular fiber, and it controls the amount of light that enter the pupil, thereby ensuring proper vision. The inflammatory condition of the iris is called as iritis. It is a part of the middle layer of the eye (uvea) and hence the condition is also called as anterior uveitis.
Iritis can be a result of any underlying systemic condition or genetic factor. It can lead to vision loss or glaucoma if untreated.
The exact cause of iritis is undetermined. It can be due to systemic conditions or genetic factors. Some of the conditions that may lead to iritis include:
Injury of the Eye: A penetrating injury or blunt trauma, or burn due to chemical or fire
Infections: Infections such as shingles, syphilis, tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, and Lyme disease
Genetic Predisposition: autoimmune diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis, Reiter’s syndrome, psoriatic arthritis can alter the immune system
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis: Children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to develop chronic iritis.
Sarcoidosis: It is an autoimmune disease that leads to granulomas in eyes which in turn cause iritis.
Medications: Medications such as rifabutin, cidofovir also causes iritis
Iritis develops suddenly and may become chronic if untreated. The signs and symptoms of iritis include red eyes, discomfort in the eye, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, pain in the eyes, spots in vision, headache, and, small pupil.
If iritis is not treated properly, it can lead to cataract, irregular pupil, keratopathy (calcium deposits on the cornea), glaucoma, and cystoids macular edema.
First, the doctor performs external eye examination by using a penlight to look at the pupil and observe the redness, inflammation, and discharge from the eyes. If iritis is suspected, the doctor would suggest for further tests like:
Visual Acuity: This test is performed to determine the vision power of the eye. The doctor displays a chart of alphabets or number and asks the patient to read aloud.
Biomicroscope examination: this is a special microscope with a slit-light attached to it which is used to examine and identify the inflammatory cells in the front part of the eye.
Glaucoma Test: The intraocular pressure of the eyes is measured by this test. Elevated pressure levels indicate glaucoma.
The treatment for iritis aims mainly at reducing pain, inflammation and preserving the vision. The treatment includes:
Steroid Eyedrops: These are given to reduce the inflammation of the eyes. Glucocorticoid medications are given as eye drops.
Dilating Eyedrops: Dilation of pupil can reduce the pain and inflammation caused by iritis. Dilating eyedrops are given to reduce the complications that are associated with iritis.
If the symptoms worsen, the doctors may suggest oral anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids.