Inflammation of the iris is called iritis. Those affected suffer from eye pain and vision problems.
What is iritis?
If iritis is suspected, an ophthalmologist should be consulted as soon as possible. The first thing to look at is the patient’s medical history. See wholevehicles for What are the Meanings of PFAPA Syndrome.
Doctors understand iritis to be inflammation of the iris (iris). Iritis is a form of uveitis (inflammation of the vascular skin) in which there is inflammation of the middle skin of the eye (uvea), whose components include the choroid and the radiating body as well as the iris. The iritis becomes noticeable through eye pain and blurred vision.
The iris inflammation can show up at any age. In Germany, around 100,000 people are affected by inflammation of the middle part of the eye every year. Iritis can occur in just one eye or in both eyes. Whether the symptoms start suddenly or develop gradually depends on the affected part of the eye.
In most cases, iritis is caused by a bacterial infection such as Chlamydia, Yersinia or Borrelia infection. However, the reason for the inflammation of the iris is not the direct infestation with germs, but the initial infection with the pathogens. This activates the human immune system, which leads to an immune activation of the body.
After its completion, an inflammatory reaction of the iris occurs. In this process, the iris gives a kind of response to the body’s reaction. It is then not possible to diagnose iritis with a smear test because the germs are in a different part of the body.
In some cases, no cause for the inflammation can be determined because the germs have already been rendered harmless. An immune reaction is therefore no longer necessary. It is not uncommon for iritis to be caused by other reasons such as an autoimmune reaction or rheumatic diseases.
These include Bechterew’s disease, arthritis, inflammation of the tendon attachments (enthesiopathy), tendonitis (tenosynovitis), rheumatic fever, inflammation of the spine or early childhood polyarthritis (Still’s disease).
Certain herpes viruses are also among the causes of iritis. These can cause herpes simplex or herpes zoster (shingles). Other possible causes of iris inflammation are sarcoidosis (Boeck’s disease) and toxoplasmosis.
Symptoms, Ailments and Signs
The symptoms of iritis can vary and depend on the number of eye layers affected. However, typical features are the appearance of a haze in front of the eye, the sensation of a foreign body, a high sensitivity to light, a red eye that waters profusely, and eye pain.
If the inflammation moves to the back of the eye, this leads to problems with visual acuity, which in turn reduces the visual acuity of the eye. Some patients also have the feeling of seeing small “clouds”. If the iritis is related to a disease of the spine, this usually leads to an acute course of the disease.
These acute cases account for about 75 percent of all iris infections. The affected persons suffer from a pronounced visual impairment, considerable pain and reddening. If the iritis persists for a long time, there is a risk that the iris and lens of the eye will stick together, resulting in chronic vision loss.
Secondary glaucoma (glaucoma) can also develop. In some cases, however, the iritis temporarily causes no symptoms at all. This is often the case with children suffering from rheumatic diseases. Sometimes the symptoms appear in both eyes.
Diagnosis and course of the disease
If iritis is suspected, an ophthalmologist should be consulted as soon as possible. The first thing to look at is the patient’s medical history. He is particularly interested in his previous illnesses.
The next step is to examine the eye with a slit lamp. The middle and front eye membranes as well as the rear eye area are checked by lighting. Another important diagnostic method is funduscopy (reflection of the background of the eye).
This procedure gives the ophthalmologist the opportunity to visualize and examine the diseased sections of the eye. The adjacent blood vessels can also be recorded in this way. To determine the intraocular pressure, the ophthalmologist also performs a tonometry.
With this method, a possible secondary glaucoma can be ruled out. Because there is direct contact between the eye and the measuring device, the patient is given a local anaesthetic. Measuring the blood sedimentation rate is also considered useful in order to obtain information about any previous illnesses.
Acute iritis can usually be treated successfully after a short time, so that the inflammation subsides again. In some cases, however, chronic inflammation can also remain. In addition, a return of the iris inflammation is conceivable.
In most cases, the iritis causes severe discomfort in the eyes. Those affected suffer from visual problems and also from eye pain. Especially in young people, visual problems can lead to depression or other mental disorders. In the worst case, this leads to a complete loss of vision and thus to blindness.
The patients also suffer from the so-called blurred vision. The sensitivity of the eyes to light also increases significantly, resulting in restrictions and problems in the everyday life of those affected. It is not uncommon for the eyes to be red or watery. The eyes get tired quickly, so that normal work is no longer possible for the person concerned.
If the iritis is not treated, irreversible damage to the eyes can occur, resulting in permanent vision problems. Glaucoma can also occur. However, life expectancy is not restricted or reduced by iritis. There are no special complications during treatment. Iritis can be treated with medication or ointments. It is not uncommon for patients to develop iritis again in the course of their lives.
When should you go to the doctor?
Eye pain, red eyes and other symptoms of iritis should be checked out by a doctor immediately. Reduced visual acuity or a foreign body sensation in the eye are also typical warning signs that must be examined and treated by a doctor. Patients who notice signs of glaucoma or have other eye conditions are best advised to speak to an eye doctor right away. Sometimes, however, the iritis can be symptom-free and go away on its own after a few weeks or months.
A doctor should be consulted if vision suddenly deteriorates or blurry vision recurs. People who have been infected with Borrelia or Chlamydia are particularly susceptible to the development of iritis. Patients with rheumatic diseases or an autoimmune disease also belong to the risk groups and should have the symptoms mentioned quickly clarified by a doctor. The right contact person is your family doctor or an ophthalmologist. In the case of existing diseases, the responsible specialist should be consulted.
Treatment & Therapy
The treatment of iritis consists initially in the administration of anti- inflammatory drugs. These are cortisone-free anti-inflammatory drops or ointments. However, some doctors also immediately administer eye ointments containing cortisone. It is also important to use a pupil-dilating drug to counteract adhesion between the iris and the lens.
If there is severe iritis, higher doses of cortisone in the form of tablets must be administered. In some patients, the ophthalmologist also injects the cortisone under the conjunctiva of the eye.
If the iris inflammation takes a relapsing course, the patient must take the cortisone preparations in the long term and in low doses. This procedure is intended to prevent any recurrences. If bacteria are responsible for the onset of iritis, the doctor will administer antibiotics.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis of iritis is favorable when seeking medical care. The administration of medicines kills the existing pathogens and germs. They are then transported out of the body. Symptoms diminish until recovery occurs. Without the help of a doctor or taking medication, an increase in symptoms can be expected. Pain increases and vision is reduced.
In particularly severe cases, the affected person can become blind. Irreparable damage to the eye can occur with this disease, which does not lead to complete healing even with later medical care. Visual acuity is impaired and may require the use of corrective lenses.
Despite the generally favorable prognosis, the disease can recur in the course of life. The prospect of a cure remains unchanged in the case of recurrent iritis. The sooner treatment takes place, the better the healing process and the likelihood of freedom from symptoms occurring. If vision is already impaired, more complications are documented. A further decrease in vision is possible. In addition, secondary diseases can occur. In most cases, these are mental illnesses that arise as a result of mental stress.
There are no measures that can be used to prevent iritis. Regular check-ups by the ophthalmologist are important.
In most cases, the options for direct follow-up care for iritis are very limited, so that the person affected with this disease is primarily dependent on rapid and, above all, early examination and treatment by a doctor. This is the only way to prevent further complications or other symptoms, so that a doctor should be consulted at the first sign of iritis.
As a rule, self-healing cannot occur. Most of those affected are dependent on taking various medications for iritis. Affected people should always pay attention to the correct dosage and continue to take the medication regularly in order to alleviate the symptoms properly and permanently. If anything is unclear or if you have any questions, you should always consult a doctor first so that no further complications arise.
When taking antibiotics, it should also be noted that they should not be taken together with alcohol, otherwise their effect will be reduced. The further course of the disease depends heavily on the time of diagnosis, so that a general prediction is usually not possible. In most cases, this disease does not reduce the life expectancy of the affected person.
You can do that yourself
Iritis always requires medical treatment. Various home remedies and self-help measures are available to accompany the respective therapy.
First of all, the healing of the iris inflammation can be promoted by increased eye hygiene. In the first few days after the treatment, the affected eye should be rested and protected from irritating influences such as water, dust, heat or intense sunlight. At the same time, the eye and in particular the bonded area must be cleaned regularly and freed from residues. The doctor will prescribe special preparations from the pharmacy for this purpose. In addition, some natural remedies and home remedies are also suitable.
Particularly effective: the homeopathic preparations Euphrasia officinalis 5 CH, Mercurius corrosivus 5 CH and Rhus toxicodendron 5 CH. These preparations should be taken three times a day until the inflammation has completely healed. If dry or cold winds are responsible for the iris inflammation, the globules Aconitum napellus will help. A proven home remedy are pads with chamomile or lemon balm. Before using these funds, you should consult your doctor. He can give further tips for treating the iritis and monitor the healing of the iris inflammation.