What is iritis (uveitis)?
Iritis is a form of uveitis and refers to the inflammation of the iris of the eye. Also known as anterior uveitis, iritis is the most common form of uveitis in children.
Uveitis is often classified by which part of the uvea it affects.
- Anterior uveitis- inflammation of the iris alone or the iris and ciliary body. Also referred to as iritis.
- Intermediate uveitis- inflammation of the ciliary body. May be referred to as vitritis or pars planitis.
- Posterior uveitis- inflammation of the choroid and/or retina. May be referred to as retinitis, choroiditis, or retinal vasculitis.
- Diffuse uveitis- inflammation in all areas of the uvea. Also called panuveitis.
Anterior uveitis is the most common form of uveitis in children.
Why is uveitis a concern?
What causes uveitis?
In many cases, the cause of uveitis can’t be determined. However, it can be associated with autoimmune disorders. In fact, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that affects one out of every 500 children, is the leading known cause of uveitis in children. Milder cases can occur following trauma to the eye.
What are the symptoms of uveitis?
Signs and symptoms may include:
- eye redness that is concentrated around the iris
- eye pain
- light sensitivity
- conjunctivitis (pink eye) that doesn't improve within a day or two
How is uveitis diagnosed?
If your child has any symptoms of uveitis, contact your ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Your ophthalmologist will perform a careful examination of your child's eyes. We may order laboratory tests including blood work or x-rays. We may also have a rheumatologist may also evaluate your child since juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a leading cause of uveitis in children.
How is uveitis treated?
Treatment requires specialists in ophthalmology and rheumatology. It may include steroid eye drops, injections or pills. Severe cases of uveitis may require treatment with immunosuppressive drugs.
What is the long-term outlook for children with uveitis?
If the condition isn’t well-controlled when it first develops, children who have uveitis may end up with some permanent eye damage. If it’s treated promptly, however, the prognosis is generally good, and patients can expect to a full recovery.