Ankylosing Spondylitis and Iritis

Ankylosing spondylitis complications can vary widely. Sufferers deal with inflammation of the finger joints, elbows, feet and more. It expresses itself in new ways from victim to victim, but the common thread is the slow fusion of the spine.

This is my first in a series of posts about ankylosing spondylitis complications. I aim to help you understand, treat and cope with the most common symptoms of AS.


Iritis among AS sufferers occurs in as many as many as 40% of the diagnosed population. Haven’t heard of it? Count yourself lucky. AS support groups online are overflowing with inquiries and complaints about it. As it turns out, that 40% number sounds pretty accurate.

The iris features a series of muscular fibers that expand and contract to control of light in the eye. These muscular fibers can become inflamed for any number of reasons, including ankylosing spondylitis. For AS sufferers, this is just another point of inflammation to be aware of.

Symptoms of Iritis

Uveitis is the term used to describe the inflammation of any part of the eye. Iritis is a type of uveitis. It is the inflammation of the front of the eye, including the iris and anterior chamber. Also known as anterior uveitis, common symptoms can include:

  • seeing spots
  • sensitivity to light
  • eye pain
  • eye redness
  • blurred vision
  • misshapen pupil
  • headaches

Not only that but, if untreated, victims can suffer complications leading up to, but not limited to, blindness.

Iritis causes daylight-induced migraines, a constant flow of tears and even permanent blindness.

Treatment for Iritis

Without immediate attention from your doctor, there aren’t many options for relief from iritis. Ibuprofen and other over the counter anti-inflammatory medications will only provide slight comfort. Some sufferers suggest wrap-around sunglasses for daylight sensitivity, but even that is only temporary.

Needless to say, if you are suffering any symptoms of iritis, it’s best to speak with your doctor right away.

Happily, this particularly troubling condition is often easily treatable. Most common treatments for uveitis involves steroid eye drops, oral steroids and dilation drops.

Dilation drops relieve pain that might be present while preventing scar tissue from forming. Steroids, taken via eye drop or orally, usually improve the condition fastest. In most cases, steroids will improve the condition within the first week of application. If prescribed steroids, make sure to ask about the risks of cataracts and glaucoma.

Understanding iritis as a common manifestation is important in your battle against ankylosing spondylitis.