Autoimmune Diseases and How They Can Affect Our Vision
If you have an autoimmune disease or know somebody who does, you know the devastating effects that it can have on your entire body. Autoimmune diseases affect joint health, muscles, and nerves, as well as the optic nerve which controls vision.
What Is An Autoimmune Disease?
An autoimmune disease is when your body perceives its own cells as a threat, or foreign, and begins attacking itself. Autoimmune diseases tend to wreak havoc on your body’s immune system and weaken it, which can leave you susceptible to infection. Autoimmune diseases are not always entirely genetic, but genetics do play a role in whether you may develop an autoimmune disease yourself. If either your parents or another family member has an autoimmune disease, it would be best to stay on top of any possible vision conditions or changes with regular vision checkups with your optometrist.
Autoimmune Diseases Which Can Affect Eyesight and Vision
While arthritis is commonly described and thought of as joint pain, this disease affects more than just your joints and bones. Arthritis can also have noticeable effects on our vision. Arthritis can cause dry and itchy eyes, blurry vision, redness, pain, and inflammation within the eyes themselves.
- Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, causes a wide variety of uncomfortable eye issues. Multiple sclerosis affects the optic nerve from within the brain, and damage to this optic nerve can cause temporary blindness. MS can also cause double vision, blurred vision, or involuntary rapid eye movements.
With proper management, diabetes shouldn’t present complications for vision and eyesight. When blood sugar levels are permanently elevated, it can damage the small blood vessels within the eyes. Short-term blurry vision can occur with sugar spikes and drops in diabetics as well, which can be a warning sign of insulin adjustments. Diabetics should have their eyes checked on a regular basis to spot early signs of diabetic retinopathy, and prevention.
- Graves’ Disease, Hashimoto’s, and Other Thyroid Disorders
Graves’ disease is a thyroid disorder in which the thyroid produces antibodies to attack itself, sending out high levels of hormones created by the thyroid. On the other spectrum, Hashimoto’s dose just the opposite – produces not enough thyroid hormones. Graves’ disease can cause a condition named Graves’ Eye Disease, in which the eyeballs themselves swell. This is a painful condition causing headaches, double vision, and restriction of eyeball movements.
Vasculitis causes the body to attack blood vessels which can affect any organ, including the eyes. Typically we will see inflammation in the eyes during routine angiogram testing in our optometrist’s office. This is a painless procedure involving a special x-ray dye test.
Vision Tips for Those With An Autoimmune Disease
- Keeping Current With Prescriptions
When you have an autoimmune disorder important to understand whether or not your eye symptoms such as blurred vision are caused by your autoimmune disease or a changed prescription. Regular visits to your optometrist can ensure that your vision is on track.
- Wearing Glasses vs. Contacts
Some people find wearing contact lenses with an autoimmune disorder very difficult. If you suffer from dry eyes or any other vision symptoms associated with autoimmune disease, contacts can make these symptoms worse. Glasses are non-invasive when compared to contact lenses, and can provide relief for sore eyes.
- Medicated Eye Drops to Maintain Lubrication
One of the most common vision problems with autoimmune disorders is also one of the most easily treatable, and that’s dry eyes. Luckily dry eyes are treatable with ophthalmologist-recommended eye drops, so if you’re struggling with dryness and eye discomfort, come visit us to find what will work best to relieve your dry eyes.
The Importance of Regular Kelowna Eye Appointments
Occasionally autoimmune disease-related vision problems occur quickly, which can be alarming. At Sun Valley Optometry we recognize the need for essential and immediate relief from these symptoms. We’re always here to help you with both your immediate and ongoing optic needs when living with an autoimmune disease.
While some autoimmune diseases may present with no vision problems or associations, taking preventative measures is always recommended. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, it’s important to have your vision checked twice yearly, to spot potential underlying conditions, and to ensure that your vision is on track and not in a noticeable decline.
Regular vision screening and testing are important for those also who aren’t affected by autoimmune diseases. If left unnoticed and untreated, declining vision health can lead to a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms like headaches due to strained vision. It isn’t uncommon to experience nearsightedness, which may require a mild prescription in glasses or contact lenses. If you already have a prescription for glasses or contacts, you know how important it is to get your eyes checked regularly – and the relief that a proper prescription can have!
Contact us today for more information, and the specialized vision services that we can provide for you.