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Eye Injury: Iris

The iris is the colored part of the eye around the pupil. By opening and closing, the iris controls the amount of light that enters the back of the eye. When the eye is injured, the iris can become inflamed. This is called traumatic iritis.

How does it occur?

Traumatic iritis can happen when an injury causes bruising of the iris, small tears in the iris, or severe damage to the iris causing it to pull away from the wall of the eye. When the iris is injured, it may no longer be able to open and close properly in response to light, and light may cause pain in the eye.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of traumatic iritis include:

  • aching pain in and around the eye
  • painful sensitivity to light
  • blurry vision
  • glare (seeing a point of light as a blurry halo of light)
  • redness of the eye

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, examine your eyes, and perform tests. Tests you may have are:

  • an exam using a special microscope (a slit lamp) to look closely at your eye
  • an exam using drops to dilate your pupil and look in the back of your eye

How is it treated?

If you are injured, your healthcare provider will examine your eye carefully to look for signs of damage. If you have traumatic iritis, you may be given drops to keep your iris dilated. This will decrease the pain from bright lights. You may also be given steroid eyedrops to decrease the inflammation. If the pressure in your eye is high, you may need to use eyedrops to lower the pressure.

How long will the effects last?

Traumatic iritis usually gets better within 1 to 2 weeks. If your iris has been permanently damaged and is irregularly shaped, you may keep having some glare and sensitivity to light.

How can I prevent traumatic iritis?

Be sure to wear recommended eye protection at work and when playing contact sports.

Reviewed for medical accuracy by faculty at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Web site:
Written by Dr. Daniel Garibaldi.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-01-30
Last reviewed: 2010-10-27
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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