Common Causes Of Iritis

April 10, 2024

Iritis is a condition where the iris, the colored ring surrounding the pupil, becomes inflamed. Iritis is considered to be a form of uveitis because the iris is a component of the middle layer of the eye called the uvea. When iritis is left untreated, it can lead to loss of vision or glaucoma. In addition, iritis can cause cataracts to develop, and it can result in cystoid macular edema or retinal swelling. Band keratopathy or calcium deposits in the cornea and an irregular pupil are also complications of iritis. Iritis symptoms include sensitivity to light, eye redness, decreased vision, eye discomfort, and eye achiness. Iritis can develop quickly as an acute condition, or it can last for several weeks as a chronic condition. Treatment for iritis focuses on relieving inflammation and pain while preserving vision. The mechanism used to treat iritis depends on its underlying cause.

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Behcet's Disease

Behcet's disease is a disorder where the blood vessels throughout the body become inflamed. This disorder affects many parts of the body including the mouth, skin, genitals, joints, blood vessels, digestive system, brain, and eyes. Behcet's disease is considered an autoimmune disorder where the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells of the blood vessels. Most cases of Behcet's disease are caused by specific gene mutations. Many blood vessels are a part of the eye and contribute to the healthy functioning of the eye. Inflammation of these blood vessels in and around the eye can cause blurry vision, pain, and redness in one or both eyes. Iritis can be intermittent in individuals who develop it as a result of Behcet's disease. Often times, symptoms of Behcet's disease will occur simultaneously throughout the body and include symptoms of uveitis. Because of its wide range of symptoms, Behcet's disease can be difficult to pinpoint as the underlying cause of iritis.

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Eye Injuries

Iritis caused by eye injuries is referred to as traumatic iritis. Blunt eye injury is usually the most prevalent cause of traumatic iritis, but injuries from firecrackers, electric shock from a taser, motor vehicle accidents, pellet gun projectiles, fishing hook weights, water balloon slingshots, batteries, and many others can cause iritis to develop. Around twenty percent of all cases of iritis can be attributed to eye injuries. When the eye sustains trauma, the cells in the eye become injured, and a good number of them die. When cell death occurs, necrotic products or byproducts of cell death are produced, and this triggers an inflammatory reaction from the immune system. Along with causing traumatic iritis, an eye injury creates a build-up of white blood cells and proteinaceous fluids in the anterior region of the eye. This buildup happens because the inflammatory response allows for the permeation of immune factors through the blood vessel walls in the affected area. This inflammation precipitated buildup in the eye can cause an increase in interocular pressure. When traumatic iritis is not adequately treated, the patient can experience vision loss.

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Sarcoidosis is a disease where multiple organs around the body are affected by inflammation. The most common organs affected include the lungs and the lymph nodes. Sarcoidosis is considered an autoimmune disease where the immune system abnormally attacks its own healthy tissues in several organ systems and regions throughout the body. Sarcoidosis can have ophthalmologic and ocular manifestations as the disease progresses to its severe stages. Ocular sarcoidosis can involve any part of the eye and any adjacent regions. It can cause eyelid abnormalities, optic neuropathy, orbital inflammation, cataracts, glaucoma, episcleritis, conjunctival granuloma, lacrimal gland enlargement, and uveitis. Iritis occurs because the immune system cells abnormally attack the iris, causing it to become inflamed. Often times, iritis caused by ocular sarcoidosis is treated using topical corticosteroids to reduce the abnormal inflammatory response of the immune system.

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Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that causes inflammation of the spine and other joints. This condition can lead to new bone development in the spine or ankylosis that causes the spinal sections to fuse into an immobile position. Pain, inflammation, and stiffness can also occur in other parts of the body as a result of ankylosing spondylitis. These parts include the hips, heels, small joints of the feet and hands, shoulders, ribs, lungs, and eyes. Iritis is a common complication of ankylosing spondylitis. Iritis is triggered in patients with this condition by bright lights. These attacks can be recurrent, and they may affect either one of the eyes. It is suggested the abnormal immune response that causes iritis is similar in terms of its mechanism to the abnormal immune response in the spine that occurs in ankylosing spondylitis patients. The exact relation of such processes, however, remains unclear. Iritis caused by ankylosing spondylitis is usually treated with the use of Cycloplegic eyedrops and anti-inflammatory eye drops.

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Shingles is an infection caused by a virus called varicella-zoster, the same virus responsible for chickenpox. Anyone who has been affected by chickenpox previously can develop shingles. This infection causes a painful rash to develop in one or more regions of the body. The most common place for shingles to develop is on the right or left side of the torso. However, the rash may form on the face and in the eyes. When this happens, it is called herpes zoster opthalmicus, and symptoms include eyelid blistering, swelling and redness of the eyelids, itchiness of the eye, light sensitivity, and blurry vision. Iritis can be a complication of shingles when it occurs in the eye. The immune system naturally has a response to the areas of the body affected by any foreign virus or bacteria. When shingles affects the eye, an inflammatory response by the immune system will also occur in the eye, resulting in iritis.

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