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Iritis

Here’s how this post started:

“I’m typing with Chrome turned up to 144% text because I can’t read the normal sized text due to the eye drops I just got at the eye doctor, which is kinda funny. I’ve been touch-typing into IM windows and I’m looking forward to reading what I typed later, because I have no idea how accurate I was…”

It turns out I was pretty accurate!

I appreciate Bernie’s making the font bigger. : )

The reason for this partial-blindness was because of the eye drops I got at the eye-doctor. I was at the eye doctor because two weeks ago my right eye became inflamed, painful and super-sensitive to light, so I went to my GP and got a scrip for gentamicin (for wimpy infections only) and anti-allergy eye-drops.

My eye got worse for a few days but then started to get better, but then my vision got blurry and I noticed that my right eye wasn’t dilating the same as my left, so I went back to the doctor on Friday and she sent me to the eye doctor.

So it turns out that you CAN get arthritis of the eye! It’s called “uveitis” or “iritis“, that latter of which looks like it must be a typo, but isn’t. Iritis produces inflammation, extreme light-phobia, eye redness, and (uncorrectable) blurred vision. It can also make you see clusters of black dots that aren’t really there, and that look like the rastering you see in old comics… I saw them. They are cool and they look kinda like this:

It also turns out that taking enbrel once a week for ankylosing spondylitis (a form of arthritis) is truly magical, but it won’t automagically prevent you from getting iritis. Fortunately, Iritis should be temporary, isn’t contagious, and can affect only one eye.

Unfortunately, Iritis is one of the 3 indicators for Reactive Arthritis, aka Reiter’s Syndrome. I had Reactive Arthritis in 2007. It required hospitalization and a liquids-only diet for over a month (TMJ). While it’s not specifically linked to ankylosing spondylitis it’s hard to think it’s totally unrelated. I mean, really. Der.

Reactive arthritis used to be called Reiter’s Syndrome, but it was renamed recently because of concerns around Reiter being a Nazi, and that maybe he experimented on Jews at Buchenwald.

If you went to med school more than about 5 years ago you probably learned of it as Reiters, and you probably also learned the mnemonic “can’t see, can’t pee, can’t climb a tree!”. This is because reactive arthritis is commonly indicated by iritis, urethritis, and severe joint pain and inflammation.

Reactive arthritis sucks. Just for the record.

There’s no guarantee that you will get reactive arthritis twice, although there is a genetic test, called HLA-B27, which will tell you that you are more LIKELY to get it. You can’t actually DO anything with this information, BTW. At this point all it tells you is statistics. Maybe someday, but not now.

The therapy I have for my eye arthritis is prednisone eye drops, which are cloudy white. When you take them you are suddenly even more blind than you would otherwise be from the iritis, because they are so cloudy.

Also, prednisone eye drops taste gross. No, you don’t squirt them into your mouth – they leak into your tear-ducts and sinuses and find their way into your mouth.

I’m hoping I don’t have reactive arthritis again, and that my iritis will clear up soon. Fingers x’ed!

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One thought on “Iritis

  1. I noticed that someone found this article by searching on the question “Is Iritis contagious?”.

    Iritis by itself is not contagious. It is a response to something else going on in your body. If it’s caused by a rheumatological condition like Crones or Ankylosing Spondylitis then everybody else is sage because those aren’t contagious.

    Your iritis could potentially be caused by something else that is contagious though. So the answer is “no, but..”

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