Iritis how long does blurred vision last

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

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Iritis is inflammation of the iris (the ring of colored tissue surrounding the pupil of the eye).

Iritis is the most common form of a family of conditions called uveitis. The uvea extends from the front to the back of the eye and comprises the iris, the ciliary body which is next to the iris and the choroid body which is at the back of the eye surface.

Anterior uveitis predominantly involves the iris, but the ciliary body can be involved as well. In this case it is called iridocyclitis.

Certain medical conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohns disease and sarcoidosis are associated with iritis.

Iritis can also result from an infection in another part of the body (such as shingles, chickenpox or the cold sore virus) that spreads to the eye.

Injury to the eye and eye surgery may also bring on an attack of iritis.

In many cases, the cause of iritis is unknown.

Symptoms of iritis include:

• Eye pain
• Sensitivity to light
• Redness of the eye
• Watering of the eye
• Blurred vision
• Floating spots in the field of vision
• A smaller pupil in the affected eye (occasionally)

Generally, the eye is not sticky or crusty. These symptoms are more suggestive of conjunctivitis.

An ophthalmologist will use an instrument called a slit lamp to examine the inside of the eye and can usually make the diagnosis on the basis of this examination.

Since iritis may be associated with disease elsewhere in the body, the ophthalmologist will require a thorough understanding of the patient’s overall health. This may involve consultation with other medical specialists. The ophthalmologist may also request blood tests, X-rays and other specialized tests to establish the cause of iritis.

Eye drops (especially steroids such as prednisolone or dexamethasone) and pupil dilators are medications used to reduce inflammation and pain in the front of the eye.

The steroid drops may need to be instilled frequently (in severe cases, as often as every half hour). The ophthalmologist will arrange to assess the progress of the treatment and will, according to the degree of inflammation, decrease or increase the treatment at this stage.

Pupil-dilating drops (such as cyclopentolate or atropine) make the patient feel more comfortable and prevent certain complications of iritis. However, the patient may become more sensitive to bright light, lose the ability to focus on near objects and vision may become more blurred.

Uveitis arising in the front or the middle of the eye (iritis or iridocyclitis) is usually more sudden in onset and generally lasts six to eight weeks. In early stages, it can usually be controlled by the frequent use of drops.

Uveitis in the back part of the eye (choroiditis) is usually slower in onset, may last longer and is often more difficult to treat. When uveitis is due to an infection in another part of the body, it tends to clear up once the underlying infection is treated.

Blurred vision can be a problem that is due to either persistent inflammation or to the drops.

In most cases, complications are rare but they include: glaucoma (high pressure in the eye causing damage), cataracts (clouding of the lens of the eye) and neovascularisation (new blood vessel formation).

If left untreated, inflammation in the eye can lead to permanent damage and even vision loss.

If a patient has been experiencing severe eye pain, blurred vision, sensitivity to light and watering of the eye, or if the patient notices that one pupil is smaller than the other, they should call the doctor.

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