Most of the time when people come into the clinic with eye pain, the pain is coming from the surface of their eyes. They may have an infection or an injury like a scratch, foreign material in the eye or a welder’s flash burn. But eye pain can originate inside the eye, and one of the main conditions that can cause this is iritis.

It involves the inflammation of what is called the uveal tissue. These tissues comprise the iris or colored part of the eye, the muscle responsible for focusing and the choroid which is a blood-rich layer behind the retina in the back of the eye. Iritis is the most common type of inflammation that occurs in these tissues.

Iritis can be caused by injury, serious infections, and certain diseases involving the body’s immune system. Unfortunately, about half of all cases of iritis have no apparent cause. Iritis once treated often comes back later on. Recurring instances of iritis, especially if both eyes are involved, requires blood work to determine if there is an underlying cause.

Treatment for this condition includes anti-inflammatory and dilating drops. The other big symptom with iritis is light sensitivity. Patients will often try to keep away from bright lights and wear sunglasses. Because iritis is difficult to spot in the eye, usually only an eye care provider can make the diagnosis.

Dr. Jace Picken is an optometrist at Prairie Vision Center in Wahpeton

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