• Medical Author:
    Frank J. Weinstock, MD, FACS

    Dr. Weinstock is a board-certified ophthalmologist. He practices general ophthalmology in Canton, Ohio, with a special interest in contact lenses. He holds faculty positions of Professor of Ophthalmology at the Northeastern Ohio Colleges of Medicine and Affiliate Clinical Professor in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science at Florida Atlantic University.

  • Medical Editor: Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS
    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS

    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS

    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.

What are symptoms and signs of iritis?

Iritis appears as a red, painful eye which may be accompanied by blurred vision and sensitivity to light. In addition, the pupil of the affected eye may be smaller than that of the healthy eye.

How is iritis diagnosed?

Diagnosis of iritis is made by the ophthalmologist. It is suspected from the history and symptoms and then is confirmed by an exam. After measuring the vision, the eye is inspected with a slit lamp microscope (biomicroscope) where inflammatory cells are seen in the front part of the eye. When measuring the eye pressure, it is often found to be lower than in the other eye.

What is the treatment for iritis?

Specific treatment is based on antiinflammatory, cortisone-like (steroid) medications used as eyedrops, or less commonly by mouth. Steroids are often accompanied by drops to enlarge (the pupil). This serves two purposes:

  1. it relieves much of the pain.
  2. The drops keep the pupil dilated to avoid it becoming scarred down and adherent to the lens of the eye, which lies behind the pupil.

If the drops are not successful, steroid (cortisone) medications in the form of pills may be used. Rarely, injections of steroids around the eye may be indicated.

How long does iritis last?

Usually, iritis clears in days, but it may last for months or may become chronic and recurrent. It is very important that it be recognized and treated without delay.

What are complications of iritis?

Blindness is an ultimate but rare complication. Recurrent pain and blurring of vision may occur. If the pupil becomes scarred down and adherent to the lense, it is unable to react, thereby losing some of the ability to adjust to different light conditions.

Glaucoma secondary to iritis may cause pain and result in blindness.

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