JIA (juvenile idiopathic arthritis) is a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects children under the age of sixteen.
JIA is a type of autoimmune disorder. White blood cells damage the body’s healthy joints (the cells that normally fight disease) in JIA. The joints get inflamed as a result of this. It can make it difficult to walk. Symptoms like fever and rashes are also frequent. JIA is a chronic (long-term) illness. This indicates that while there is no cure, treatment is available.
What Are the Effects of JIA on the Eye?
Some children with JIA will have ocular irritation; this is referred to as uveitis. When the uvea becomes inflamed, it is called uveitis. This can take several forms, but JIA primarily affects the front of the uvea (anterior uveitis).
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of JIA Uveitis?
Uveitis symptoms include:
● light sensitivity
● eyesight problems
There are no evident symptoms in up to half of patients at first. When symptoms arise in these children, damage to the eye and vision loss may already have occurred. This is why, as soon as a child is diagnosed with JIA, they should see an ophthalmologist.
Uveitis can lead to the following complications if it is not diagnosed and treated early in a child’s life:
● Cataract or the clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye
● Keratopathy of the band (discoloration of the cornea)
● Glaucoma (high pressure inside the eye that can lead to vision loss)
● macular edema cystoid (swelling in the center of the retina, the light sensitive tissue in the back of the eye)
How is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis Uveitis Diagnosed?
What will happen throughout the exam is as follows:
Tests on the blood
Antinuclear antibody (ANA) will be evaluated in the blood. If the test comes back positive, the youngster is at a higher risk of developing uveitis. Other blood tests may also be performed.
Exam with a slit lamp
An equipment called a slit lamp will be used by your ophthalmologist to examine your child’s eye. The slit lamp provides an enlarged, comprehensive image of the eye for the doctor. He or she can check to see if uveitis has caused any damage to the eye.
The good news is that uveitis-related visual loss can be avoided. Uveitis can be diagnosed and treated early enough to save your child’s vision. Your ophthalmologist will inform you when you should return for another exam after the first one.
How Is JIA-related Uveitis Treated?
The treatment of uveitis is frequently done in a collaborative setting. An ophthalmologist will collaborate with your child’s rheumatologist (a doctor specializing in autoimmune illnesses, including arthritis and uveitis) to determine the best course of action.
The following treatments may be used:
The most common treatment for uveitis is steroid injections. They can be given orally (as pills), topically (as eye drops), or intravenously (as an injection).
Steroids alleviate ocular irritation in 7 out of 10 patients. Other patients may require immunosuppressive medication. These are medications that suppress the immune system’s reaction and can aid in the management of ocular and joint inflammation.