If your eyes are red, you usually think it's an infection. While that may be true, there are many other causes of red eyes including injuries, allergies or a lesser known condition called iritis (pronounced eye-ritis). Iritis is often overlooked because you need the special equipment in an eye doctors' office to make the diagnosis. If misdiagnosed, it may be assumed that you have an eye infection and antibiotic eye drops prescribed. Then it is only after that treatment is ineffective that the patient may be referred to an eye doctor.
Iritis in not an infection. It is an inflammation of the inside of your eye, much like arthritis is an inflammation of your joints. It is treated with steroid eye drops and possibly dilating drops. The key to telling the difference between iritis and an eye infection is where the redness occurs. With iritis, the redness is usually in a ring around the colored part of the eye. Iritis is also associated with extreme light sensitivity. With an infection, the redness usually involves the whole white part of the eye and there may also be a discharge.
If untreated, iritis can lead to vision loss due to swelling in the back of the eye, glaucoma, cataracts or an inability of your pupils to enlarge in the dark. When determining the cause of the iritis, it is sometimes necessary to send you back to your primary care doctor for a medical evaluation which may include blood tests and possibly a chest x-ray. Iritis may recur if the underlying cause of the inflammation is not identified and properly treated. Many times, however, the cause of the inflammation is not determined.
Is it time for your complete eye examination or do you have a specific eye problem? Give us a call. We have 3 doctors and two locations in Ozaukee County for your convenience. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, from 8:30 to 5:00.
Dr. Mark German is an Optometrist practicing with Drs. Martha Jay and James Ivanoski at Lakeshore Eye Care Professionals with offices in Mequon and Saukville, Wisconsin. He welcomes patients of all ages into his practice and accepts most insurance plans.
For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit www.LakeShoreVision.com.