Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) and its evolved form, Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TENS), are terrible conditions that affect the mucus membranes and cause patches of skin to peel off the body. While SJS can cause a patient to lose from 10 percent all the way up to 30 percent of their skin, TENS patients often lose as much as 70 percent of their skin. Sufferers of SJS and TENS can also develop painful blisters that cover their entire bodies, including the mucus membranes inside the eyes, nose, mouth, ears and genitals.
Needless to say, SJS and TENS patients can die from their injuries, and many who recover still end up with permanent damage like scarring from repairing the skin, vision problems and even blindness. However, since the main priority with doctors is saving the patient’s life, so many of the treatments for SJS and TENS ignore the lesser symptoms of the disease in favor of treating the symptoms most likely to be fatal. This often means that during the acute phase of this disease, areas like the eyes are left untreated. This is what can often lead to long-term ocular damage.
Most often, patients with SJS or TENS wind up with corneal damage because blisters in the eyes are often not treated in the acute stages.
“This is one of the most difficult diseases to manage,” says Dr. Mark Mannis. “As a result of the acute phase, critical components of the ocular surface have been severely damaged. A standard corneal transplant simply won’t work, because the patient’s surface won’t support a clear graft.”
“Older patients are most likely to die from the disease; the younger and healthier a patient is at presentation, the more likely they’ll have a long life ahead of them, but also more likely they’ll go blind if not treated during the acute stage,” says Esen K. Akpek, M.D., associate professor of ophthalmology and director, Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. “Doctors have to restore the patient’s fluid electrolyte balance, keep the patient warm, and free of infectious agents as sloughing of the dermal layer puts them at high risk for death from fluid loss, electrolyte imbalance or infections.”
Doctors agree that the acute stage is when these ocular conditions have to be treated. That is within the first two weeks. Otherwise, the patient is more likely to go blind. If you or a family member are suffering from SJS, contact attorney Greg Jones today for a free consultation. I am experienced at helping victims of SJS and TEN receive compensation for their injuries.