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Iritis is inflammation predominantly located in the iris, which is the colored part of the eye. The iris controls the size of the pupil, the opening that allows light into the back of the eye. It is located behind the cornea and just in front of the focusing lens of the eye.


  • Pain
  • Light sensitivity
  • Red eye
  • Tearing
  • Blurred vision
  • Floaters
  • Small pupil

Iritis is often associated with an infection or disease of another part of the body, including ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis (Reiter’s syndrome), psoriatic arthritis, irritable bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis (HLA B15), sarcoidosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Lyme disease, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, “cat scratch” disease, toxoplasmosis, toxocariasis, presumed ocular histoplasmosis syndrome, Whipple’s disease, valley fever, tuberculosis, leptospirosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and others. Patients known to have these disorders should be examined for chronic mild iritis on a regular basis.


Iritis is diagnosed during an eye exam with a biomicroscope. Because iritis is associated with other diseases, blood tests, skin tests, and x-rays may be used to determine the cause of the inflammation.

When the iris is inflamed, white blood cells are shed into the anterior chamber of the eye, where they can be observed via biomicroscopic examination to be floating in the convection currents of the aqueous humor. These cells are counted to form the basis for rating the degree of inflammation. This is measured on a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being the most cells.


Initial treatment is through the use of topical corticosteroids. If adhesion is anticipated, then a dilating drop is used to relax the ciliary body to prevent the iris from adhering to the lens in a closed position. Iritis that is stubborn, recurrent, or chronic may require systemic treatment through the use of oral steroids or other immunomodulating drugs.

Some of the consequences to the lack of treatment or under-treatment are epiretinal membrane formation, cystoid macular edema, cataracts, glaucoma, detached retina, vitreous hemorrhage, and vascularization of the retina. Uveitis is the third leading cause of preventable blindness in the developed world.