A fascinating medical case history out of China details a man who was diagnosed with Lupus after visiting a hospital with eye complaints. Strangely, this patient had no other warning signs of lupus besides his rapidly declining eyesight.
The patient, 23, told Sun Yat-sen University's staff he noticed his vision getting blurry over the past ten days. Although his vision got progressively worse, he didn't experience any eye pain. Before these ten days, this young man had 20/20 vision.
When doctors took image samples of the patient's eyes, they found white splotches on his fundus. These marks are typical of an eye disease known as Purtscher-like retinopathy.
Doctors believed some kind of inflammatory disease was responsible for this man's strange condition. They immediately prescribed him immunosuppressive drugs to help stave off worsening vision.
Using a wide variety of musculoskeletal and immune tests, researchers found that this man was suffering from an underlying case of lupus. This is the first time lupus has ever been diagnosed solely due to visual symptoms.
After four months of treatment, the patient's right eye now measures 20/40 and his left eye measures 20/667. The specific drugs he was prescribed include prednisone and methotrexate.
In their case history notes, authors recommend all doctors test people suffering from Purtscher-like retinopathy for diseases like lupus. In addition to a physical exam, professors at Sun Yat-sen University advise extensive rheumatic testing.
Lupus is classified as an autoimmune disorder, which means the immune system starts to attack the body's healthy tissue and causes chronic inflammation. Common symptoms of this disease include lethargy, hair loss, pain in the joints, and a facial rash.
The Lupus Foundation of America says there are at least 5 million lupus patients around the world. People tend to experience symptoms of lupus between 15-44 and women tend to be more affected by the disease than men.
The most common treatment methods for lupus include immunosuppressive and steroidal drugs. Rheumatologists also recommend using a high-quality sunscreen and wearing UV-protective clothes to prevent skin outbreaks.
Wei Chi was the lead author and the head contact for this study. Founded in 1924, Sun Yat-sen University is located in the southern city of Guangzhou. Many Chinese know this university by the nickname Zhongda.
To read the full medical case history, check out The BMJ. This study was published under the title, "Minerva Purtscher-like retinopathy as a first manifestation of systemic lupus erythematous."