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Researchers Study Stevens Johnson Syndrome and Blindness

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Chicago, ILFor people who have lived through the horror of Stevens Johnson syndrome, there may be no other pain like it. The condition, sometimes the result of Zithromax reactions or an allergic reaction to other common medications, can cause permanent damage, blindness and even death. Little is known about SJS and in some cases patients do not receive proper treatment because medical professionals, not recognizing the condition, misdiagnose and sometimes prescribe more of the medication that caused the reaction in the first place.

Now, researchers at Loyola University Medical Center have studied whether there is a way to prevent blindness associated with Stevens Johnson syndrome and its more severe form, toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). Researchers, whose work was published in the journal Cornea (1/6/12), studied whether an amniotic membrane transplantation performed within the first two weeks of the development of SJS or TENS would decrease the likelihood of the patient becoming blind.

Patients who develop Stevens Johnson syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis are usually treated in a hospital burn unit because their symptoms resemble burns. The skin blisters and sloughs off (the difference between SJS and TENS is that in SJS less than 30 percent of the skin is affected whereas in TENS, more than 30 percent of the patient's skin is affected). Often the skin sloughs off, leaving the patient open to serious infection. The patient may experience internal burning and damage to the mucous membranes.

Some patients who recover from their ordeal are blind or extremely photosensitive. Damage to their eyes means they may not have enough moisture in the eyes, resulting in eyes that are severely dry.

Researchers for the Cornea study found that an amniotic membrane transplantation performed early enough could prevent blindness or severe vision loss in some patients. They concluded, "Early use of AMT [amniotic membrane transplantation] prevents severe vision loss in SJS/TEN patients with initial moderate or severe ocular surface inflammation."

What makes SJS and TENS so scary is that they are an allergic reaction to medication that may have been previously tolerated by the patient. A patient could have taken acetaminophen or zithromax repeatedly and never had so much as a tiny reaction, but then one time could take the drug and develop SJS. Furthermore, because some doctors do not recognize SJS, they may use the same drug—such as acetaminophen—to trea

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READER COMMENTS

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My sister Shalana Page developed steven Johnson syndrome when she was 8 or 9 years old. Over the years she has had many many surgeries for multiple problems but the current issue is her vision. She has already lost vision in her left eye and is now on the verge of losing the vision in her right eye. I am currently researching every avenue I can to find something that will help her. She is also having an issue with inflammation of the gums which is also causing her a lot of problems. The only option doctors are giving her a cornea transplant but im looking for other options since she had 3 or 4 cornea transplants on the left eye that rejected. Please if you have or can do anything to assist her that will be so appreciated.

Thank you,
Tameka Johnson

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