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Facts on Iritis

  • The iris is the circular, colored portion of the front of the eye with the dark pupil in the center. It is made up of muscular fibers that control the amount of light entering the pupil so that we can see clearly. The iris accomplishes this task by making the pupil smaller in bright light and larger in dim light.
  • The iris is the front part of the uveal tract of the eye. The uveal tract consists of the iris, then the ciliary body, and behind that, the choroid. In some people, the iris can become inflamed. This is termed iritis.
  • Inflammation of the front part of the eye is referred to as anterior uveitis or iritis, whereas inflammation behind this is known as posterior uveitis.

What Causes Iritis?

Iritis may be a consequence of trauma (traumatic iritis) or nontraumatic causes. In a significant number of cases, no cause for the iritis is found.

What Are the Symptoms of Iritis?

Iritis usually develops quickly and generally affects only one eye. Signs and symptoms may include any or all of the following:

  • pain in the eye or brow region. An exception to this is iritis in patients with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since they often do not have pain. Due to the lack of pain it may be confused with minor irritation ("pink eye") of the eye, but should not be ignored in these patients;
  • worsened eye pain when exposed to bright light;
  • reddened eye, especially adjacent to the iris;
  • small or irregularly shaped pupil;
  • blurred vision;
  • headache;
  • increased tear production in the eye; or
  • iritis may result in glaucoma and/or cataracts, leading to a marked decrease of vision.
Last Reviewed 12/29/2017

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