World Ankylosing Spondylitis Day 2023: Autoimmune Disease Causes Eye and Heart Problems
World Ankylosing Spondylitis Day is an awareness day to raise understanding about the disease, its impact, and the importance of early diagnosis and treatment. Ankylosing spondylitis is an autoimmune disease that affects the joints, causing painful inflammation. The disease is characterised by inflammatory lower back pain, spinal fusion, and impaired spine mobility. Experts explain how this autoimmune disease can cause eye and heart problems.
Symptoms and Complications
The symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis usually start in early adulthood. Inflammation in the eyes, known as uveitis, is the most common complication. Uveitis causes rapid-onset eye pain, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and reddening of the eyes. Another common complication of ankylosing spondylitis is heart problems. The autoimmune disease can cause inflammation of the aorta, the largest artery in the body, making it enlarge to a point that the shape of the aortic valve in the heart is distorted, resulting in impaired function of the structure. Therefore, inflammation of the aorta caused by ankylosing spondylitis is linked with increased risk of heart disease.
How Ankylosing Spondylitis Leads to Eye Problems
According to experts, uveitis can lead to vision loss and even blindness if left untreated. The most common type of uveitis is anterior uveitis, or iritis, which affects the iris. A 2017 study states that up to 40% of people with ankylosing spondylitis may develop acute iritis. The HLA-B27 gene, associated with an increased risk of ankylosing spondylitis, also plays a role in the development of uveitis. Ankylosing spondylitis also increases the risk of glaucoma and cataracts, and medications such as corticosteroids can aggravate eye conditions.
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