If you have an autoimmune disorder such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or Sjogren's syndrome, you'll need to get eye exams on a regular basis. These medical conditions not only have the potential to cause symptoms such as generalized weakness, fatigue, pain, and low grade fever, they can also heighten your risk for developing problems with your eyes. Here are three ways autoimmune disorders can affect your eyes and what you can do about them:
Multiple sclerosis often causes weakness on one or both sides of your body, abnormal tingling or shock-like sensations in your neck or spine, and visual disturbances. In fact, one of the first symptoms of multiple sclerosis may be unilateral temporary blindness, or transient loss of vision in one eye.
This usually lasts for just a of couple days, but when it occurs, a visit to an eye doctor or even a neurologist should be considered. Since multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease, existing eye damage is usually not reversible, however, by working with your doctor, future eye damage can be minimized.
Certain vitamins, including those contain lutein and vitamin A, as well as getting daily exercise, following a healthy diet, and taking your prescribed medications can help stave off disease progression, including eye damage.
If you suffer from an autoimmune condition known as Sjogren's syndrome, you may experience extremely dry, irritated eyes. Sjogren's syndrome not only affects your salivary glands leading to a dry mouth, but it also affects your tear glands.
While dry eyes are very common and are not typically associated with systemic disease, if they are accompanied by the inability of your salivary glands to produce adequate saliva flow, you may have an autoimmune disorder. Over-the-counter artificial tears, drinking plenty of water, and taking certain prescription medications can help restore moisture to your eyes, helping to prevent corneal abrasions, itching, irritation, and dryness.
Autoimmune diseases can also cause abnormal movements of the eyes known as nystagmus. This refers to rapid back and forth movements of your eyes, which can also be accompanied by blurred vision, eye pain, shaky vision, excessive tearing or dryness, and headache.
If you experience involuntary eye movements, see your eye doctor for a dilated eye examination. Your eye doctor will be able to see the involuntary movements of your eyes, however, you will need to visit your physician or neurologist to determine the cause of your nystagmus. Prescription muscle relaxer drugs, getting adequate sleep, and avoiding caffeine may help control erratic eye movements, however, treating the underlying cause will be necessary.
If you have an autoimmune disorder or if you have any of the above eye symptoms, get an eye exam. The sooner eye problems are recognized and addressed, the less likely you are to experience visual damage related to autoimmune disorders. Contact a clinic like Advanced Eye Care & Surgery Center to learn more.