It’s Not Conjunctivitis, It’s Iritis

At The Eye Clinic, we sometimes see patients who come in thinking they have simple conjunctivitis, colloquially known as pink eye, because the white of their eye may be red and inflamed. But sometimes this isn’t conjunctivitis at all, but a more serious condition known as iritis. This is swelling and inflammation of the iris, the colored ring around your eye’s pupil. 

Whereas conjunctivitis is not a serious condition, iritis needs to be treated By Dr. Wilkins or Dr. Donohue, as it can lead to glaucoma or vision loss. 

What are the symptoms of iritis? 

Iritis usually develops suddenly. It can occur in one or both eyes. Acute iritis develops suddenly over hours or days. Chronic iritis has symptoms that last longer than three months. These are signs and symptoms of iritis: 

  •     Eye redness
  •     Discomfort or achiness in the affected eye
  •     Sensitivity to light
  •     Decreased vision

What causes iritis? 

Causes behind a patient’s iritis can’t always be determined, but they can include: 

  •     Eye injury — Blunt force trauma, a penetrating injury, or a burn can cause acute iritis.
  •     Infections — Viral infections on the face, such as shingles or cold sores caused by the herpes virus, can cause iritis. Infectious diseases can also lead to iritis.
  •     Genetics — People who develop certain autoimmune diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease or psoriatic arthritis can develop acute iritis.
  •     Behcet’s disease — This is rare in Western countries, but more common elsewhere in the world.
  •     Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis — Children with arthritis are more prone to iritis.
  •     Sarcoidosis — This autoimmune disease involves the growth of inflammatory cells in areas of the body, including the eyes.
  •     Certain medications — Certain HIV medications can cause iritis.

What happens if I don’t treat iritis? 

If left untreated, iritis can lead to these problems with your eye or eyes: 

  •     Cataracts — The telltale clouding of the lens of the eye, cataracts, is a possible complication of untreated iritis. This is especially true if there is a long period of inflammation.
  •     An irregular pupil — Scar tissue can cause the iris to stick to the underlying lens or the cornea, making the pupil irregular in shape and the iris sluggish in its reaction to light.
  •     Glaucoma — If you have recurrent iritis, this increases the odds of developing glaucoma, a dangerous eye condition where pressure builds inside the eye and can lead to vision loss.
  •     Calcium deposits on the cornea — Iritis can lead to this degeneration of the cornea, which can cause vision loss.
  •     Swelling within the retina — Swelling and fluid-filled cysts that develop in the retina at the back of the eye can blur or decrease your central vision.

If you have symptoms of iritis, we need to see you at The Eye Clinic. Call us at (503) 297-4718 to schedule your appointment.

Posted in: Iritis

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