Many autoimmune diseases can interfere with the health and function of the eyes.
An autoimmune disease is a disorder that causes the immune system to attack healthy cells. If you or someone you love has an autoimmune disease, it’s important to be aware of these possible effects, so let’s take a closer look at a few of the more common ones.
MS is so closely linked with vision problems that eye doctors are often the first ones to recognize the signs of the disease. In many cases, a gradual or sudden loss of vision due to inflammation of the optic nerve (called optic neuritis) is one of the first symptoms to appear.
When we think of psoriasis, we tend to think of how it affects the skin, creating scaly, dry, itchy plaques. However, it can also cause inflammation of the conjunctiva (the clear membrane covering the whites of the eyes and the insides of the eyelids), causing redness and discomfort.
Disorders that cause increased or decreased thyroid function also increase the risk of glaucoma, a sight-threatening eye condition in which pressure builds inside the eye until it permanently damages the optic nerve and causes vision loss. An overactive thyroid can cause tissues to build up around the eyes, increasing pressure, while low thyroid function can disrupt the circulation of fluids in the eye, leading to increased pressure that way.
Lupis is a chronic disease that damages the skin, organs, joints, and even the eyes. The effects can range from mild to life-threatening. It affects the eyes through inflammation, with symptoms like blurred vision, dry eye, headaches, light sensitivity, and soreness.
Type 1 Diabetes
While all forms of diabetes have numerous implications for vision health, type 1, an autoimmune disorder, is one of the leading causes of blindness in the US. High blood sugar is very hard on blood vessels over time, and that includes the delicate capillaries feeding the retina at the back of the eye. When these vessels weaken and break, they compromise the retina’s blood supply and leak blood into the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy, only one of the sight-threatening conditions made more likely by diabetes.
Your Best Resource Is the Eye Doctor
These are just a few of the autoimmune conditions that impact eye health. Others include Sjorgen’s syndrome, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, Behcet disease, and uveitis. If you or a loved one is living with an autoimmune condition, make sure to keep us in the loop so we can work with you on keeping your eyes healthy and your vision strong.