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Iritis

Iritis

What is iritis?

Iritis is an inflammation of the front half of the eye. it is also called acute anterior uveitis.

Why are the symptoms of iritis?

You may have a very sore, red eye. Bright lights often make it feel worse.

What causes iritis?

In most cases, we do not know the cause of iritis. This doesn’t matter because the treatment is the same whether we know or not.  Sometimes people with iritis also have mouth ulcers, skin rashes, diarrhoea or joint pains.  You should tell your eye doctor if you have had any of these symptoms recently.

What might I need a blood test and chest X-ray?

This helps to rule out some of the conditions mentioned above.

Is it an infection?

No. it is usually caused by your own body’s defences mistakenly attacking your eye. Antibiotics will not help.

How is it treated?

You will be given steroid drops to put in the eye, very frequently at first, to control the inflammation. You will be told how to reduce the drops slowly over the following few weeks.  You will also be given drops to make your pupils large. This is to stop the coloured part of the eye (the iris) from sticking to the lens behind it. You should NOT STOP taking the drops until you are told to by your eye doctor.

What are the side-effects of the treatment?

The most noticeable side effect is that your pupil will be noticeably larger than on the other side. This will return to normal in a few days after sopping the drops.  Your vision may well be blurred as a result of the enlarged pupil. This will also return to

normal after stopping the drops.  Occasionally patients are allergic to the eye drops. If you are allergic to them, your eye will get itchy and sore. You must tell your eye doctor if you think you are allergic to the drops.

What are the chances that I will get iritis again?

Unfortunately it is possible that you will get iritis again if you have had it once, but the sooner you start any treatment, the quicker it will get better, so you should come to Eye Casualty without delay if you think you are getting iritis again. Eye Casualty is open from 9.00am to 4.30pm every day.

Will this affect my eyesight?

As long as you start treatment early, it is very unlikely you will suffer any long-term effects of iritis. However, if you delay coming to casualty, there is a danger of glaucoma, cataract and swelling at the back of the eye.  All of these can seriously affect your eyesight.

Is there anything I can do to make it get better more quickly or to stop it coming back?

Apart from taking the drops as directed and coming to eye casualty as soon as you notice the problem, there is nothing more you can do to affect the course of your iritis.

Written by Dr David Jones and Margaret Gray.

Printed October 2003, review date October 2010.

This leaflet is for generalised information only. For personalised

information, please speak to a member of clinical staff.