What color are your eyes? When you answer that question you are talking about the iris, which is the ring of color in your eyes. The iris helps make a fashion statement, and it also performs a valuable function to make clear vision possible. The iris is a muscular membrane. The muscles of the iris contract and relax depending on how much light is in the area, which makes the opening of the pupil larger or smaller. This allows the correct amount of light to enter the eye for clear vision and prevents damage to the eye from very bright light.
Symptoms of Iritis
When the iris becomes inflamed, the condition is called iritis, or anterior uveitis. Symptoms of iritis include:
• Pain in the eye or around the eye
• Sensitivity to light
• Red ring in the white part of the eye (sclera) surrounding the iris
• Pupils that are different sizes or unusual shapes (not round)
• Blurred vision
• Floaters in the eyes – these may look like wisps of dust drifting through your vision
Iritis is classified as acute if it appears suddenly, in just a few hours or days. It is called chronic if symptoms develop gradually over weeks or months.
Iritis may occur for a variety of reason. Causes include:
• Injury - Blunt force trauma to the eye may cause acute iritis.
• Infections – Herpes zoster, also known as shingles, can cause iritis, especially if the outbreak is on the face. Other infectious diseases including toxoplasmosis, histoplasmosis, tuberculosis, and syphilis may also cause iritis.
• Genetics – A genetic mutation known as HLA-B27 affects the function of the immune and may cause autoimmune diseases including ankylosing spondylitis, Reiter’s syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriatic arthritis. These conditions may in turn cause acute iritis.
• Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis – Iritis may be one of the first symptoms of a mild form of this condition. Iritis and juvenline rheumatoid arthritis often occur together, so patients with one condition should be screened for the other.