5 Autoimmune Diseases That Can Affect Vision
When the immune system mistakenly attacks the body and damages healthy cells, vision is in the crosshairs. In many cases, the eyes give both a patient and his or her doctor a tip that an autoimmune disease may be developing. In fact, an eye doctor is often the person to refer a patient to test for serious conditions such as:
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a progressive disease that damages the brain and spinal cord. Vision problems are among the first noticeable signs of MS for most people. The optic neuritis often caused by MS can bring any combination of blurred vision, color vision loss or a dim spot, usually to one eye. MS patients also frequently report double vision or uncontrolled eye movements. The first symptoms and signs of Multiple Sclerosis often involve vision and the eyes, so through an eye exam, an early diagnosis can be me and patients can be referred for treatment before it progresses further.
While hands, arms, legs and feet tend to suffer the most in rheumatoid arthritis, this inflammatory disorder can also cause dryness in the eyes. Unlike with MS, vision problems from rheumatoid arthritis usually involve both eyes. Dry eye syndrome is perhaps the most common eye condition to accompany rheumatoid arthritis, but painful scleritis (inflammation in the white of the eye) and uveitis (inflammation of the tissue in the eye wall) are possible as well.
Psoriasis is seen mostly as a skin condition that causes itchy and dry patches of skin all over the body. However, many patients don’t realize that it is also a threat to their eyesight. Pain, redness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light or floaters are symptoms of uveitis, which is slightly more common in psoriasis patients compared to the average person. In addition to uveitis, psoriasis may also flare up on the eyelids.
Lupus can damage any and every part of the body, including the eyes. This condition is extremely complex and unpredictable, but one thing we know is that it can cause everything from scleritis to retinal vascular lesions to optic neuropathy. Lupus is also frequently associated with Sjogren’s syndrome, which often manifests similarly to dry eye syndrome due to insufficient tear production from the body attacking the tear glands.
The statistics connecting diabetes and vision are jarring. Nearly all patients with type 1 diabetes and more than half of patients with type 2 diabetes experience retinopathy. Furthermore, diabetic retinopathy is the most frequent cause of blindness among adults ages 20-74, according to Diabetes Care. The reason for this is largely because a chronic struggle with blood sugar damages the blood vessels in the back of the eyes. Diabetes can also cause cataracts or glaucoma.
These are just a few of the many serious conditions that can affect one’s vision. We’re not trying to scare you; we just want you to see why it’s so important to have your eyes checked regularly. An eye doctor will not only identify eye problems, but also help treat them and protect your eyes from permanent damage. Plan your next visit to Athwal Eye Associates today.