What Can Cause Damage To Your Iris?

When someone refers to your eye color, they're really referring to the color of your iris. Surrounding the pupil, the muscles in our iris will expand and contract to control how much light enters the eye in order to boost our vision (via the Cleveland Clinic). In doing so, our eyes are able to meet the needs of our ever-changing surroundings, whether in a dark room or outside in the sunlight. The iris is essential. Without it, everything would be out of focus.

Iritis is a health condition in which the iris becomes inflamed (per Cedars-Sinai). Symptoms of the condition include pain, headache, redness, tearing, sensitivity to light, misshapen pupils, or changes in vision. The condition can be brought on by inflammatory autoimmune diseases, certain medications, or various bacterial, fungal, parasitic, or viral infections. However, there is one form of iritis that is explicitly the result of damage to the iris known as traumatic iritis, according to experts at NVision. So what exactly is traumatic iritis and what kind of damage is severe enough to cause the condition to develop? Let's take a closer look — so to speak.

Common sources of iris trauma

Traumatic iritis is inflammation of the iris caused by blunt force incidents, explains NVision. Also known as anterior uveitis, the condition affects 12 out of every 100,000 Americans. Symptoms of traumatic iritis include swelling, the presence of a red ring around the iris, a buildup of pus towards the bottom of the iris, ocular pain, spotty vision, and more. Automobile accidents, falls, a ball to the eye, or setting off fireworks in close proximity to one's face can all lead to the development of traumatic iritis.

Researchers from a 2016 study published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science gathered health data dated between 2008 and 2015 from patients diagnosed with traumatic iritis who had been admitted to the ER. Out of 447 total patients, a little over 240 returned for a follow-up appointment. Researchers were able to determine the top causes of damage to the iris. For nearly 30% of patients, a thrown object was the source of the damage. A little over 22% had been punched or kicked. Roughly 16% had been injured by unidentified means. Other sources of patient eye trauma included soccer ball injuries, tree branches, bottle caps, and rocks.

With adequate rest and treatment, cases of traumatic iritis usually resolve in about a week (per NVision). However, in severe instances, the condition can lead to vision loss. Therefore, if you experience signs of injury to the iris, be sure to consult with your ophthalmologist.