Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Charlotte & Iritis - Arthritis of the Eyes

Charlotte's eye appointment didnt go well today. After 3 weeks of steroid drops, I was hoping to hear that we had controlled the arthritis that had gone to her eyes. But we dont have it under control and are back to drops every hour for the next 2 weeks. We will see the eye dr. after the new year and see where we are from there.

Charlotte has Iritis & here's a description of it:

Arthritis is usually thought of as a disease of the joints, only and rarely thought of as being a problem for the eyes. In some ways, the eyes have much in common with knees or other joints as both are relatively self-contained with definite boundaries or walls that create fluid-filled cavities, or spaces, of connective tissue. The eye's version of arthritis is called uveitis. Just as in many cases of arthritis, determining the cause of uveitis is baffling and frustrating.

Iritis occurs in about half of children with pauciarticular (sounds like posse- ar-ticular) JRA, which is what Charlotte has - affecting four or fewer joints. JRA-related iritis is often asymptomatic and is known to continue into adulthood (fantastic). Right now Charlotte is being treated for iritis with glucocorticoid eye drops.

Technically, uvea is the collective term for the three different elements that form the pigmented tissue of the eye -- the iris, ciliary body, and choroid. These three tissues are joined together throughout the eye, and together they are known as the uveal tract. Uveitis is the general name given to any inflammation that strikes the uvea.

The iris is the circular, coloured part of the eye behind the cornea, which also controls the pupil to open and shut in order to regulate the light that enters the eye. Specifically, when an inflammation occurs in the iris, it is called iritis.

There can be symptoms of uveitis including blurry vision, red eyes, photophobia (sensitivity to light), floating spots, and pain or aching around the eyes. But the eye dr. doesnt believe that Charlotte is suffering from any of these symptoms at this point. Charlotte requires more frequent eye exams because if left untreated, uveitis can lead to a large number of even more serious eye conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma, and damage to the retina, cornea, and optic nerve.

We will see the pediatric rheumatologist on Thursday, December 21st & he will talk to us about option b if we cant get the iritis under control. The eye dr. didnt want to go into those options utnil we had talked to Dr. Kingsbury, but said that it could be a steroid pill swallowed or an injection done once a week. I will also be talking to him about a parent support group for families who have children with rheumatoid arthritis. Ryan & I shudder every time we think about all these steroids, but we just dont know what else is out there to do. And it would be nice to talk to other families that are going through this. I am also looking into supplementing with understanding an anti-inflammatory diet for Charlotte. Because maybe there is truth to the balance of we are what we eat & if we can control foods that are natural inflamatory foods then hopefully we could get this under control.

1 comment:

Lisa Milton said...

I've been on heavy doses of steroids over the past 2 years - it's rough.

I think playing with her diet may be worth it, although a pain in the rump. I've been cooking out of a whole foods cookbook, and finding I feel a little better.

Little Miss Charlotte is in my thoughts & prayers.