What is iritis?

Did you know that uveitis is believed to be the cause of up to 10% of reported cases of legal blindness? This is according to an epidemiology research – Incidence and Prevalence of Uveitis Results From the Pacific Ocular Inflammation Study -published in 2013.

What is uveitis?

Uveitis is an inflammation of the uveal tract; the anatomy featuring the iris, choroid and ciliary body. It’s actually a collective name for more than 30 conditions. These forms have different origins but in most cases it’s due to an auto-inflammatory response. Iritis (or anterior uveitis) is the subject of interest here.


Iritis (anterior uveitis) as the name suggests is the inflammation of the iris and the ciliary body. It’s characterized by redness of the eye (varying in degree), sensitivity to light, blurred vision and tearing.

What causes iritis?

There are many causes of iritis. For example, it could be as a result of:

• eye infection or trauma

• complications due to juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis (TB), lupus or ankylosing spondylitis

• eye surgery

• herpes simplex of the eye

Note that iritis is not a contagious disease and it may occur in one or both eyes.

How do you tell if you have iritis?

Iritis usually manifests itself in the following ways. First, the eye becomes red. You’ll feel some pain and become sensitive to light. Your vision also becomes blurry.  Sometimes the pupil of the affected eye could look smaller than the other unaffected one.

Diagnosis of iritis

If you suspect that you could be having iritis based on the aforementioned signs and symptoms then you should see an optometrist.  Your eye doctor will look for many signs to diagnose the condition but Low eye pressure and presence of inflamed cells are both positive indicators of iritis.

Treatment options for iritis

Depending on the case and severity, iritis is treated with anti-inflammatory, ‘steroid like’ medication. These are normally in the form of eyedrops. Cycloplegic medications are often prescribed as well as part of the regimen.  You’ll notice that these cycloplegic drops help enlarge the pupil. This serves two purposes:

(i) it helps relieve pain

(ii) the pupils become dilated to avoid scarring which may tamper with vision

If the medication does not relieve the symptoms then an injection to the affected area may be considered as a last resort. Sight is a primary sense and everything should be done to ensure that you see clearly.

How soon will iritis go away?

Iritis usually clears out in a week or two. In some complicated cases, it become recurrent or even last for weeks on end. Don’t take chances: seek medical attention immediately if you notice any symptoms of iritis. The same applies to other forms of uveitis. You wouldn’t want to suffer agonizing pain, blurred vision or red eyes, would you? Any form of uveitis should have the best prognosis when diagnosed and treated early.

If you need to see an Optometrist in the Toronto area call our office today to book your appointment.