Ankylosing Spondylitis, Ophthalmologic Perspective
AS Ophthalmologic Introduction
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of progressive arthritis that leads to chronic inflammation of the spine and the area where the spine joins the pelvis (sacroiliac joints). Ankylosing spondylitis primarily affects the axial skeleton (skeleton of the head and trunk) and the related ligaments and joints. Ankylosing spondylitis can also affect other joints and organs in the body, including the eyes, lungs, kidneys, shoulders, knees, hips, heart, and ankles.
The term ankylosing spondylitis refers to stiffening and inflammation of the spine. Ankylosing spondylitis causes stiffness, aching, and pain around the spine and pelvis. The spine stiffens because of inflammation of the joints between the bones of the spine. This inflammation can cause the vertebrae to fuse together and eventually can lead to a total fusion of the spine. This fusion occurs when the vertebrae (spinal bones) actually grow together, fusing the spine due to calcification of the ligaments and disks between the individual vertebrae. If the vertebrae fuse together, the spine loses its mobility, leaving the vertebrae brittle and vulnerable to fractures. Ankylosing spondylitis may also cause a curvature of the spine.
Ankylosing spondylitis is often referred to as a form of inflammation of the bony spine called seronegative spondyloarthropathy. In the case of ankylosing spondylitis, the term seronegative means that blood tests do not show the presence of certain factors seen with rheumatoid arthritis. The term spondyloarthropathy means a disease that affects the joints of the spine.
Ankylosing spondylitis primarily affects young adults and is approximately nine times more common in males than in females. This disease is also approximately three times more common in whites than in African Americans. The onset of ankylosing spondylitis is most common in men 17-35 years of age. In women, the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis often first appear during pregnancy.
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