Vital Signs

What did Mr. Leonard's back have to do with his eyesight?

By Sharron Sussman|Tuesday, June 01, 1999
By Sharron SussmanWhen Mr. Leonard was admitted to the hospital, he couldn't meet my eyes. He wasn't shy--he simply couldn't raise his head. His spine was curved so far forward that when he sat, all I could see of him was the top of his head. Ankylosing spondylitis, the condition that had brought him to this state, sometimes leaves its victims unable to eat or speak normally. In these patients, the stiffly flexed spine pins the chin and lower jaw firmly against the breastbone. The condition, a k...

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