Patient Blogs | Ankylosing Spondylitis
Iritis and Other Eye Problems With Ankylosing Spondylitis
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I've had my ups and downs when it has come to managing my eyesight with AS. Fortunately, I haven't had any permanent vision loss, but I have had to deal with some serious temporary vision problems.

The first time I experienced iritis was when I held my corporate finance job. The majority of my day as an associate was looking over portfolio numbers and getting government documentation ready for new accounts. One day, I began to experience pain in my right eye. It was subtle. I thought it was merely fatigue from staring at the computer all day, but the pain quickly escalated. Soon my vision in that eye became very blurry and my eye was very sensitive to sunlight.

I couldn't see very well out of my eye, so I went to the ophthalmologist. He diagnosed me with iritis. I was put on a high dose of steroids, which included eye drops and an ointment to apply at night to help with the pain and inflammation. 

The steroid drops needed to go into my eye several times during the day, so this meant I had to do this at the office. It was embarrassing for me to go into my purse and pull out the eye drops in front of my co-workers because I didn't want to get into a whole big explanation of what I was doing. I didn't want them to look at me while I was trying to tip my neck back (something I can't do very well) or judge me. So I usually sneaked off to the washroom or made sure to add the drops to my eyes at my desk when no one was around.

It took time, but the iritis eventually went away and my vision returned to normal. However, I have had several other episodes of iritis since then. Each time, the pain and sensitivity to light were just as severe as the first time.

Iritis can cause a lot of pain and discomfort, so it’s imperative to see a doctor as soon as possible if you think you might have it; you can experience vision loss. Don't mess around with this.

If you have iritis, your ophthalmologist will likely prescribe steroid drops to help reduce the inflammation. The drops need to go into your eye several times a day. This can be inconvenient, especially if you're working.

The worst part about the eye drops was the aftertaste they left in my throat. Very bitter. The ointment was easier to deal with since I only had to put it in at night before bed. But even that required some care so that I didn't get any of the ointment in my hair or on my pillow.

Iritis can be a real pain, both literally and figuratively. However, it's critical to follow the directions and use the drops as prescribed. By doing this, you'll help iritis to go away and prevent it from coming back or causing vision loss. 

The prospect of losing my sight permanently in my right eye was a source of great anxiety for me. I'm so grateful I was able to get the treatment I needed and that my vision hasn't been affected permanently.

If you're dealing with iritis, know that you're not alone. Don't be afraid to ask for help from your doctor or those around you. There's no shame in needing a little assistance when you're dealing with a difficult condition like iritis.

How do you know when to visit the ophthalmologist if you suspect you may have iritis?

1) Eye pain and discomfort

2) Sensitivity to light

3) Blurry vision

4) Redness in the eye

5) Swelling or inflammation around the eye

If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. They'll likely do a thorough examination and may order tests such as a CT scan or MRI to rule out other causes of your symptoms.

AS can cause all sorts of problems with your eyesight. So it's important to be vigilant and watch for any changes in your vision. Remember, if iritis occurs, don't panic. Seek medical attention immediately and follow your doctor's orders. With the right treatment, you'll be on your way to recovery in no time.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Peter Glass / Design Pics via Getty Images

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Lovaine Cohen

Lovaine Cohen

Diagnosed since 2001

Lovaine Cohen has lived with ankylosing spondylitis for over 20 years. A chronic pain coach, Lovaine helps women reduce pain with her Holistic Healing Method program and shares pain management and anxiety tips on her blog and on Instagram. Her loves include her two children in their early 20s, a rescue husky named Stella, and her husband of 28 years. Connect with Lovaine on Instagram.

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