How Autoimmune Diseases Impact Eyesight
Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which the immune system turns on healthy cells.
Some of these diseases can have a serious and negative impact on the health and function of the eyes. For those grappling with autoimmune conditions, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential effects on vision. Let’s delve into some of the more prevalent autoimmune diseases and their implications for eye health.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Vision problems are closely associated with MS, with eye doctors often being the first to identify signs of the disease. Gradual or sudden vision loss due to inflammation of the optic nerve (optic neuritis) is a common first symptom.
Beyond its impact on the skin, psoriasis can inflame the conjunctiva (the clear membrane covering the whites of the eyes and the insides of the eyelids). This inflammation can manifest as redness and discomfort.
Conditions affecting thyroid function elevate the risk of glaucoma, a sight-threatening eye condition. An overactive thyroid can lead to tissue buildup around the eyes, increasing pressure, while low thyroid function may disrupt fluid circulation, resulting in elevated eye pressure.
As a chronic disease with broad-ranging effects, lupus can damage the skin, organs, joints, and eyes. Inflammation in the eyes can manifest as blurred vision, dry eyes, headaches, light sensitivity, and soreness.
Type 1 Diabetes
As an autoimmune disorder, type 1 diabetes is a leading cause of blindness in the U.S. Prolonged high blood sugar is particularly harsh on blood vessels, including the delicate capillaries supplying the retina. This stress on vessels can lead to diabetic retinopathy, a condition where weakened vessels compromise the retina’s blood supply and may cause bleeding into the eye.
Other Autoimmune Eye Health Symptoms
These are some of the most common eye health complications from autoimmune conditions, but there are others. Sjorgen’s syndrome can cause dry eye, ulcerative colitis can cause inflammation in the eyes of 10% of people diagnosed with it, and as many as half of Crohn’s sufferers deal with frequent eye inflammation. Three-fourths of Behcet’s disease experience blurry vision, pain, or redness in their eyes, and uveitis can cause similar symptoms.
Your Eye Doctor: Your Trusted Ally
If you or a loved one is navigating an autoimmune condition, keeping your eye doctor informed is essential. Collaborating with your eye care team ensures proactive measures to maintain healthy eyes and robust vision. We consider it an honor to be your lifelong partner in preserving your vision health. If you have an autoimmune condition, reach out to us.