When most people think about someone getting diagnosed with arthritis, they typically don't think the patient is a young child. However, there is a form of arthritis that affects children. It's called juvenile idiopathic arthritis. If your child has been diagnosed with this surprising condition, you need to be aware that children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis tend to develop eye problems. Here's what you need to know.
Common Eye Problems That Are Comorbid to Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
The most common eye problem that is comorbid to juvenile idiopathic arthritis is uveitis, which is when the uvea is inflamed. The uvea is the colored part of the eye as well as other parts of the eye that produce fluid in the eye, control movement of the lens, and lines the eyeball. Other words that are also used are iridocyclitis and iritis, depending on the part of the eye that is inflamed.
The inflammation can lead to scarring and visual acuity problems if left undetected and untreated. Scarring can, in turn, lead to permanent vision damage, cataracts, glaucoma, and/or blindness. Because of this, your child should have an eye exam as soon as possible. If no inflammation is found, regular eye exams should be scheduled, even after juvenile idiopathic arthritis goes into remission and is no longer active.
Children Rarely Complain of Eye Symptoms From Inflammation
According to the Arthritis Foundation, children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis rarely complain of eye symptoms in the early stages before scarring takes place. The reason for this is because eye inflammation is not painful and the whites of the eyes are usually not red with this condition until scarring has occurred. In rare cases, some children may complain of light sensitivity or blurry vision, but these issues occur so slowly that changes are often unnoticed until damage is done. This is why it is important to have regularly scheduled eye exams.
Blood Tests Can Help Determine if Eye Problems Are More Likely
Medical researchers have discovered that children who have positive blood test results for antinuclear antibodies are more likely to have eye problems that are comorbid to juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Therefore, if your child's pediatrician or rheumatologist has not yet ordered this blood test, ask them to do so. If the test is negative, repeated testing should be done on a regular basis to determine whether or not your child has produced antinuclear antibodies at any time while having juvenile idiopathic arthritis and after it goes into remission.
Contact a center like Advanced Eye Care & Surgery Center to learn more.