I am finally led to the exam room and sit, waiting for the doctor to come in. The whole time I still have a bandanna over my eyes, my sunglasses on, and my hand over my eyes so no light can get in at all. Light was my enemy, no matter how slight. I sort of wish I had pictures from the day so you can get an idea of how ridiculous I felt and how red my eye was. This image from Wikipedia pretty much sums it all up.
The doctor starts his exam, and I can tell he is getting frustrated. I am unable to open my eye (even in a dark room) and he can't see what is going on. Once I am finally able to open it for a few seconds he scrunches his face and I can tell that he immediately knows what is going on. He diagnoses me with Iritis, and inflammation of my iris. My pupil stopped dilating in my right eye and is no longer regulating light. You can see the variation is sizes in the picture above.
Fortunately, the doctor was able to give me some drops which offered me instant relief. One of the drops was specifically for dialiting my pupil, which cured my light sensitivity, but made it so I could not focus on anything small (like reading off of a computer), which is a small side effect considering. It took a few weeks, but eventually my eye returned to normal. I was told that it is sometimes a freak occurrence. It can just happen to people out of nowhere, for no reason. Not to even worry about it, unless it happens again.
Flash forward to 2009 (six years later). I hadn't thought about the incident much, and brushed it off as just one of those things. One night I took a vitamin that gave me an allergic reaction (hives are scary if you have never had them before). This incident seemed to set off a chain reaction which led to my second occurrence of iritis. Again I couldn't open my eyes to any kind of light. Again I had take dialiting drops and a steroid to fix my eye. Again I brushed it off as just one of those things.
In the next few months I got several more flare ups. This led to a series of tests (and what seemed like 10 vials of blood being drawn) to figure out what was causing this. When you have multiple occurrences, it is a symptom of something else. A lot of scary something elses.
For me, it turned out I have an antigen in my body that causes this. It causes lots of other scary things too, that hopefully I will never have to deal with. Just having the antigen means I am at greater risk for them. I will get flare ups of iritis from time to time, and need to see the doctor every time. The steroid you have to take to fix it also causes other eye issues. Nothing in life is ever simple, right?
I mainly wrote this blog post to share my experience living with with iritis . As my doctor explained it, essentially I have arthritis in my eye. I have been dealing with a flare up over the last few weeks, and it can be very frustrating and a bit debilitating. Also, I am hoping that someone else who may be dealing with it may read this and be able to share their experience with me. It seems to be a rare ailment, and I have never met anyone else that has it.
Of course, if you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them, either via comments below or email.