What is iritis?

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Iritis: Overview

Iritis is an inflammation of the colored part of the eye. This part of the eye is called the iris. Iritis can cause redness and pain. It can make your eyes more sensitive to light. And it may make your pupil very small.

Iritis is most often treated with prescription eyedrops. Treatment can usually prevent long-term problems with vision. Iritis can keep coming back, so you will need follow-up care with an eye doctor (ophthalmologist).

Anterior uveitis (say "you-vee-EYE-tus") and iridocyclitis (say "eer-ih-doh-suh-KLY-tus") are other terms used to refer to this problem.


Iritis is an inflammation of the colored part of the eye (iris) that can cause redness, pain, light sensitivity, and in some cases, differing pupil sizes. Left untreated, severe iritis can permanently affect vision.

Most people who develop iritis have recurring episodes. Although iritis often occurs for unknown reasons, it can be linked to certain long-term (chronic) diseases that cause inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, or other disorders. It may also occur as a result of infection, such as a herpes infection.

Iritis is diagnosed with a complete eye exam. Treatment includes medicines given as eyedrops or by injection next to or inside the eye.

How can you care for iritis?

  • If the doctor gave you eyedrops, use them exactly as directed. Use the medicine for as long as instructed, even if your eye starts to look better soon. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your eyedrops. Wash your hands well before and after you put in eyedrops.
  • To put in eyedrops or ointment:
    • Tilt your head back, and pull your lower eyelid down with one finger.
    • Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid.
    • Close your eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops or ointment move around.
    • Do not touch the ointment or dropper tip to your eyelashes or any other surface.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Make sure you go to all of your follow-up appointments. You will need a complete eye exam from an eye doctor.

Iritis: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or increasing eye pain.
  • You have vision changes in either eye.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have new or worse symptoms.
  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.