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Iritis is swelling and irritation in the iris of your eye. The iris is the colored ring around the eye’s pupil. It is located on the front part of the uvea, which is the middle layer of the eye between the retina and the white of the eye.
Uveitis occurs when any part of the uvea is swollen. Iritis (also called anterior uveitis) is the most common type of uveitis. Sometimes it’s caused by an underlying condition or genetics, but the cause is usually unknown.
Most cases of iritis clear up with the use of steroid eye drops. If left untreated, iritis can lead to glaucoma or vision loss.
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Many people develop iritis without ever knowing the cause. It might be linked to trauma, disease, or genetics.
Some of the most common causes of iritis include:
Symptoms of iritis include:
Iritis can develop suddenly or gradually. Eye pain is usually the first indication of a problem. When it develops within hours or days, it’s categorized as acute iritis. Gradual and/or long-lasting symptoms (three months or more) indicates chronic iritis.
Anyone can develop iritis, but some people have a higher risk. You might have an increased risk of iritis if you have:
Iritis can be caused by eye trauma. If you experience an eye injury, which can happen to anyone, it can result in iritis. This is one of the reasons it’s so important to protect your eyes when engaging in activities that put your vision at risk.
Iritis can be dangerous if left untreated. Potential complications associated with untreated iritis include:
You should see an eye doctor as soon as possible if you have symptoms of iritis. Prompt treatment prevents serious complications from developing.
If you experience eye pain and/or blurred vision or other vision problems in addition to symptoms of iritis, seek urgent medical care. Iritis can lead to permanent vision loss, so it’s important to take symptoms seriously, even if you think the problem will clear up.
In addition to seeing your eye doctor if you suspect you have iritis, you might also want to schedule a consultation with your primary care physician. Sometimes, iritis is a secondary symptom of other medical conditions.
If iritis isn’t caused by trauma to the eye or another known cause, it’s important to determine if there is an underlying condition occurring. It’s possible to discover you have an autoimmune condition or other health issues while dealing with iritis symptoms.
The exam for patients with symptoms of iritis include:
If your doctor suspects iritis and there’s no obvious cause, your eye doctor might suggest a routine exam with your primary care physician or order blood tests and/or x-rays to determine the cause.
The goal of iritis treatment is to relieve pain and inflammation and prevent permanent vision problems. Treatment includes:
If you cannot see a doctor right away and iritis is causing you discomfort, there are a few at-home treatment options available. But it’s important to seek medical attention if your symptoms do not clear up in a day or two using at-home options.
At-home treatments for iritis that may or may not alleviate symptoms include:
Many of these supplements boost overall eye health and are relatively safe for most people to use. It’s important to speak to your doctor before using supplements and to not rely on supplements as a cure-all for iritis. Keep in mind: many of these herbal supplements have not been proven through substantial medical studies to be safe or effective.
Iritis caused by trauma usually clears up on its own within a couple of weeks. Non-traumatic iritis can take weeks or months to heal.
However, it’s important to see a doctor if you suspect iritis because it can cause complications.
Treating iritis with medication reduces discomfort, as well as the risk of secondary problems. Left untreated, iritis can lead to serious eye-health problems, including glaucoma, cataracts, and vision loss.
People with chronic iritis associated with systemic diseases might have the option of treating iritis at home (based on their doctor’s recommendations). Your ophthalmologist might provide you with steroid eye drops to have on hand to use when symptoms flare up.
There are several things you can do at home to prevent iritis symptoms from developing and/or manage the symptoms until you can get medical attention. For example:
Iritis treated at home might clear up on its own, but it’s a good idea to see a doctor. This is especially true if it’s your first time dealing with the condition.
“Iritis - Symptoms and Causes.” Mayo Clinic, 2018.
“Iritis | Cedars-Sinai.” Cedars-Sinai.org, 2019.
Mahabadi, Navid, et al. “Iritis.” PubMed, StatPearls Publishing, 2020.
Russell, Kristen, MS4, Texas Tech University “Iritis.” Moran Eye Center: Moran CORE, 2017.
“Eye Injury: Symptoms, Treatment, Causes.” Cleveland Clinic.
“Tips for Avoiding Eye Injuries at Home.” Mayo Clinic.