Published: 09:31, 03 August 2018
| Updated: 09:57, 03 August 2018
A mother has warned parents to 'trust their instincts' after months of eye tests for her young son resulted in a 'shocking' diagnosis of childhood arthritis.
Jodie Osborne from Lympne first noticed her toddler Jude Kjelstrup had irritated eyes last summer, sparking a long string of doctors' visits.
The three-year-old began blinking and squinting more than normal, and was checked out by both paediatricians and eye specialists who believed he had blepharitis, a sore eye condition.
Miss Osborne, 30, said: "A lot of the time I put it down to things like the weather, sand or air conditioning. Silly things like that.
"But after a while, you can't put it down to stuff like that any longer."
Despite trying different treatments, the youngster's health was not improving, and the family eventually got an appointment with an ophthalmologist at the end of 2017.
He was diagnosed with uveitis, an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye.
But during the appointment, the specialist linked a soreness in Jude's knees to the eye condition as a sign of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), which a rheumatologist diagnosed him with just two days later.
Miss Osborne, who is also mum to one-year-old Neve, said the family were 'shocked and horrified': "It took a few weeks for it to sink in... what it was about and what it was going to entail."
The number of children with JIA who develop uveitis is low, with only 10% to 30% affected.
Uveitis can sometimes lead to blindness while in 30% of JIA cases, arthritis can remain active into adult life.
Jude's symptoms are managed with steroid eye drops and injections for his knees and ankles, but the family have organised a charity fun day to help fund other research into treatment.
Miss Osborne continued: "At the moment it's looking positive, but it can flare up at any moment.
"We wanted to do a charity day to raise awareness. It would be a good point to meet other people with the condition too."
She hopes others will take note: "Just trust your instincts as a mother and push to get the answers. We could have very easily been pushed off but we but actually, we knew something wasn't right."
The fun day for the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) will be held at the Alfred Arms, 17 Newton Green in Ashford on Saturday (August 4) from 2pm onwards.
For more information, visit iamjude.co.uk