The iris is the colored part of the eye. It is located between the cornea and lens. The round, central opening of the iris is called the pupil. Very small muscles in the iris cause the pupil to get smaller and bigger to control how much light comes into the eye. This allows you to see well in lighter and darker settings.
The number of color granules in the iris determines the iris color (pigment). The amount of pigment is often related to a person's genes, skin type, and hair color.
Inflammation of the iris is called iritis. Rarely, tumors can form in the iris. When tumors do form, most often they are melanoma.
Evans M. Anatomy of the uvea. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 7.1.
Stein HA, Stein RM, Freeman MI. Anatomy of the eye. In: Stein HA, Stein RM, Freeman MI, eds. The Ophthalmic Assistant: A Text for Allied and Associated Ophthalmic Personnel. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 1.
Review Date 10/8/2017
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.