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Traumatic Iritis and Chemical Iritis

by Kathryn Colby, MD, PhD

Iritis (also known as iridocyclitis or uveitis) is inflammation of the pigmented inside lining of the eye (uvea), iris, or both.

Iritis can develop after blunt eye trauma or a chemical burn, typically within 3 days. However, iritis can also develop without injury.

Symptoms may include tearing, redness of the eye, and a painful ache in the eye. Usually people have some blurred vision or pain when exposed to bright light (photophobia).

A doctor bases the diagnosis on the person’s history, symptoms, and the results of a slit-lamp examination (see see The Eye Examination : Slit-Lamp Examination) .

Drugs that dilate the pupil are instilled into the eye. The drug relaxes the muscles of the colored part of the eye (iris), which spasm painfully. These drugs are called cycloplegics and include scopolamine and homatropine. Corticosteroid eye drops (such as prednisolone) are often used to shorten symptom duration. Cycloplegics and corticosteroids are usually adequate to relieve pain, but if necessary, the person can also take acetaminophen.

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