Autoimmune disorders are classified as conditions in which the body’s immune system works against your healthy cells by mistake. Normally, the immune system works to guard the body against bacteria and germs. Having any form of autoimmune condition mean that the immune system is instead attacking parts of your body that are meant to keep you healthy. Autoimmune diseases can be hereditary, and multiple families can have them, but not all of them necessarily have the same one.
While several conditions affect specific parts of the body, some share a similar trait–being linked to eye health. Some symptoms that come with the condition can impact the vision of those who have it. If you are diagnosed with any of the following conditions, be aware of the effects it could have on your eye health.
8 Autoimmune Disorders Linked to Vision Impairment
- Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is a rare form of diabetes that is genetically acquired through a virus. It is also known as ‘juvenile diabetes because it usually appears in adolescence. This chronic disorder is classified as when the body’s pancreas produces little to no insulin, causing symptoms like fatigue, hunger, frequent urination, increased thirst, and blurred vision. This condition is rare and requires immediate emergency care. Treatment helps, but there is no known cure for it.
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in the country. One of the symptoms is swelling in the macula, which is the central area of the retina. This is called diabetic macular edema, a condition that causes partial vision loss or blindness.
Lupus is an inflammatory disease where your body’s immune system attacks your tissues and organs. This disease can attack the joints, blood cells, brain, heart, lungs, skin, and kidneys. One telltale sign of lupus is skin redness manifesting in many parts of the body. Lupus is classified as a common condition in the US.
This autoimmune disease can also lead to retinal vasculitis, a condition wherein inflammation occurs in the retinal artery’s vascular branches. This eye inflammation makes the eyes sensitive to light and prone to blurred vision and sore eyes.
- Behcet disease
Bechet’s syndrome is a disease where inflammation manifests in blood vessels throughout your body. This disease is classified as very rare and can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms appear related to other conditions. The cause of it is unknown. Symptoms include mouth and genital sores, rashes, and inflamed eyes.
This disease is also a leading cause of blindness in the population. Bechet’s retinal vasculitis can occur among patients who have this disease.
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple Sclerosis or MS is a rare condition that can cause damage to your central nervous system. In this case, the immune system attacks the myelin, the protective sheath that covers your nerve fibers, which disrupts communication between your brain and body.
Initial symptoms of this disease include optic neuritis, which is a gradual loss of vision.
- Graves’ disease
Grave’s disease affects the thyroid, the gland that sits low on the front of your neck. This disease causes an overproduction of thyroid hormones, which leads to a condition called hyperthyroidism. These hormones can affect the body’s functions in many ways. The symptoms include an enlarged thyroid, hand tremors, heat sensitivity, weight loss, and puffy eyes.
A test performed on one hundred four patients shows that patients with Grave’s disease have a higher chance of acquiring open-angle glaucoma. This is the most common form of glaucoma where the trabecular meshwork of your eye is partially blocked, but the drainage angle of your cornea still remains open. People with this glaucoma experience eye pressure spiking, which results in eye pain, headaches, eye redness, and cornea swelling that can cause vision cloudiness.
Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes patching and irritation faster than normal. This leads to patching up in the skin that builds up into bumpy red patches with white scales. It can also affect the nails or joints. This disease is widespread, with three million cases popping up in the US per year.
Psoriasis can cause eye inflammation, but it is rare in most patients. However, when the skin patches build up near the eyes, it can be serious, painful, and hard to treat. People who experience this are often advised to wash the affected eyelids and areas, apply prescribed topical medication, and are often advised to take a tonometry test to ensure that the condition did not affect your eye pressure. Patients may be prescribed low-potency steroids, but these should not be used frequently as it increases the risk of cataract.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
This condition is a type of arthritis where the immune system attacks its own tissues, most commonly in the joints. In severe cases, it can attack the organs as well. This disease is classified as common, and while there is no cure, physiotherapy and anti-rheumatic medication can help ease discomfort.
This disease can cause eye dryness, which makes eyes prone to infection and can cause damage to the cornea if left untreated.
- Sjogren’s Syndrome
Sjogren’s Syndrome is a common condition where the immune system targets saliva and tear glands, causing mouth and eye dryness. Eye drops, medication, and surgery are often solutions to help patients’ health improve.
There are different types of treatment for autoimmune disorders, but another common link that these diseases have is that a lifestyle change can have an excellent effect on their health. A well-balanced diet and exercise are always encouraged alongside medical treatment.
Regular checkups are often required to monitor your body’s disorders. But to avoid any of the vision impairments caused by your disease, you need to check in with eye experts regularly as well. Arizona Retinal Specialist offers plenty of services and can help keep track of your eye health. Call us now to set an appointment or fill out our contact form for more information.