Eye Injury: Iris

What is traumatic iritis?

The iris is the colored part of your eye around the pupil. The iris opens and closes to control the amount of light that enters the back of your eye. When the iris is injured, it may no longer be able to open and close properly in response to light. This is called traumatic iritis.

What is the cause?

Traumatic iritis can happen when something hits your eye or gets into your eye, causing a bruise, a small tear, or more severe damage to the iris.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

  • Aching pain in and around your eye
  • Painful sensitivity to light or seeing glare or halos of light
  • Blurry vision
  • Redness of your eye

Your iris may have an irregular shape if it is damaged, which may be permanent.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and activities and do exams and tests such as:

  • An exam using a microscope with a light attached, called a slit lamp, to look closely at the front and back of your eyes
  • An exam using drops to enlarge, or dilate, your pupils and a light to look into the back of your eye

How is it treated?

You may be given drops that dilate your pupil, which relaxes the muscles in your eye and reduces pain. You may also be given steroid eyedrops to decrease the swelling. If the pressure in your eye is high, you may need to use eyedrops to lower the pressure.

Traumatic iritis usually gets better within 1 to 2 weeks. If your iris has been permanently damaged and it has an irregular shape, you may always have some problems with glare and sensitivity to light.

How can I take care of myself?

Follow the full course of treatment your healthcare provider prescribes. Ask your healthcare provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results
  • How long it will take to recover
  • What activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

How can I prevent traumatic iritis?

  • To help prevent severe eye injuries, wear safety eyewear when you:
    • Do any work around the house that requires hammering, power tools, chemicals, or splatter of any kind
    • Play paintball, racquetball, lacrosse, hockey, and fast-pitch softball
    • Shoot firearms or use explosives of any kind
    • Are in a high-risk area such as a construction site or shooting range
  • Wear seatbelts to decrease injuries from car accidents.

Reviewed for medical accuracy by faculty at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Web site: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/wilmer/

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