Do you live with spondylitis and have recurring problems with your eyes? You’re not alone. Many members of MySpondylitisTeam discuss their experiences with painful eye inflammation.
According to the Spondylitis Association of America, as many as 40 percent of people with spondylitis will experience uveitis (eye inflammation) at least once. Symptoms of uveitis include pain, redness, sensitivity to light, and vision changes. If left untreated, some types of eye inflammation can lead to vision loss or even blindness. Uveitis and iritis - a serious complication - are both caused by the same inflammation involved in spondylitis. Some members also mention blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) and episcleritis (inflammation of the clear layer over the white of the eye).
Symptoms of Eye Inflammation
MySpondylitisTeam members describe different symptoms they experience with eye inflammation:
“Terrible eye pain”
“Burning, dryness, blurring, bloodshot appearance”
“Felt like sandpaper”
“Photophobia, severe eye pain and pressure, and seeing spots with blurry areas in my vision”
“Red, dry, and blurry vision”
“It felt like grit, and I couldn’t get any relief from it.”
“It feels like a hot poker or ice pick in the eye, accompanied by extreme sensitivity to light and redness.”
Connecting Eye Inflammation to Spondylitis
Some MySpondylitisTeam members do not immediately recognize their eye inflammation as a symptom of spondylitis. “Not a bad day today, just having a problem with my eyes,” wrote one concerned member. “This is really starting to worry me a lot. Anyone got some clue?” Another wrote, “Has anyone had their AS [ankylosing spondylitis] affect their eyes? I have experienced various eye issues over the past couple of years.” In both conversations, other members quickly responded that, yes, unfortunately, eye inflammation is common in spondylitis, and recommended speaking with a doctor about treatment.
For others, eye inflammation was key to getting diagnosed with spondylitis. “I was quickly diagnosed with AS because of eye involvement as well as pain,” wrote one MySpondylitisTeam member. “The eye issues were how I got diagnosed a few years ago,” said another.
Some members have an additional diagnosis of secondary Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune condition that affects moisture-producing glands, causing dry eyes and worsening eye problems. “My eyes are constantly bothering me, but on top of AS I have Sjogren’s and dry eyes,” wrote one MySpondylitisTeam member. Sjogren’s is more common in those who have another autoimmune disease, such as spondylitis.
Treatment for Eye Inflammation
Many members report that treatments for spondylitis have also helped with eye inflammation. “[My rheumatologist] said Humira has something in it that helps the eyes directly. Also iritis is recurring, so if you can get on Humira I would.” In another conversation, a member wrote that he was starting Methotrexate due to a bout of uveitis. Another member wrote in support, “I’ve been on Methotrexate for about 10 years now, it’s helped me a lot along with the Rituxan infusions.” In another conversation, a member said, “I have been on Plaquenil for eight years or so - it helps with the eye pain.”
On MySpondylitisTeam, the social network and online support group for those living with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) and other types of spondylitis, eye inflammation is a frequent topic.
Here are some conversations about eye inflammation:
Here are some question-and-answer exchanges about eye inflammation:
Have you experienced problems with your eyes? Have you found any treatments that helped with your eye inflammation? Comment below or post on MySpondylitisTeam.