Reader question: I was diagnosed with Iritis over 20 years ago and I still have it. Can you tell me more about it?
Dr. Hynes: Iritis is the inflammation of one of the inner layers of the eye which is called choroid. Depending on what part of the choroid is inflamed, the doctor can call it any of the following diseases: iritis, iridocyclitis, pars planitis, chorioretinitis, vitritis, panuveitis, or the doctor can use the general term uveitis.
Inflammation of the eye can be caused by any of the following reasons: infectious (cold sore virus, shingle viruses, Lyme disease, and others), autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, lupus, etc.). In some case, the person carries a specific gene which can predispose him or her to chronic uveitis. It is very rare, but it also can be caused by cancer. It's not that uncommon that the doctor, after doing blood work and additional testing, still will not know what the cause is.
The symptoms can be any of the following or the combination of some: redness, light sensitivity, pain or an achy pain in the eye, floaters, flashes of lights, blurry vision or blurry spot when you try to read. Occasionally uveitis may not have any symptoms and gets diagnosed during a routine eye exam. People of any age can get uveitis, including children - especially those with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA).
Inflammation of the eye needs to be treated. If left untreated it can cause serious complications, including blindness. If the problem becomes frequent or chronic and your regular eye doctor cannot control it or stop it, you need to be seen by a uveitis specialist, who has extra training to take care of patients with this problem.
Dr. Alla Hynes of Eye Care Physicians & Surgeons of Woodstock and Winchester, is a board certified opthalmologist specializing in the treatment of a wide variety of eye diseases. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like her to answer your questions in her column next month. Read her bio: http://www.nvdaily.com/lifestyle/dr-alla-y-hynes.php.