HOW DO AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES AFFECT THE EYES?

Dr. Jim Martin 04/14/2016

autoimmune_disease.jpgStatistics have shown that women are more likely than men to develop autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren's syndrome. These diseases occur when the immune system begins attacking its own tissues instead of incoming pathogens.

With April being Women's Eye Care and Safety Month, it's important to understand how autoimmune diseases can also affect your vision. Carefully monitoring your vision and eye health is vitally important if you suffer from an autoimmune disease.

Lupus

Lupus is a disorder that's characterized by widespread inflammation and pain, but also headaches, fatigue and even anxiety. But lupus can also cause a variety of eye issues, particularly as the disease progresses. Some of these issues include chronic dry eyes, eye pain, conjunctivitis, retinal vasculitis and iritis.

Behcet's Disease

Behcet's disease is a leading cause of blindness in some developing countries and is considered fairly rare in the U.S. but it can have a serious impact on your health. Sufferers will experience blurry vision due to inflammation in the eye, as well as an increase in mouth ulcers and sores. Eye symptoms associated with Behcet's disease also include retinal vasculitis and uveitis as well as blindness if not treated properly.

Thyroid Diseases

Autoimmune disorders that result in abnormal thyroid function can increase your risk of glaucoma, which is a condition of high pressure inside the eye. With low thyroid function, it's thought that the eye may not be able to circulate fluids effectively, causing pressure to build up from the inside.

Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. Chronic poor blood sugar can cause damage to the small blood vessels in the back of the eye. These blood vessels can develop small aneurysms that leak blood and can cause irreversible damage.

Multiple Sclerosis

Eye doctors may be the first to detect MS in patients because the connection between vision health and this disease is so strong. Symptoms of MS include a gradual or sudden loss of vision due to inflammation of the optic nerve, a condition known as optic neuritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis can cause dryness of the eye, inflammation, thinning of the cornea, as well as other painful eye conditions.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin disease marked by red, itchy and scaly patches but also can impact your eye health. It can cause inflammation of the conjunctiva, which can lead to redness and pain in your eyes.

Scheduling regular eye exams is an important part of your overall health and vision. Contact the eye professionals at Broome Optical today.

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