Autoimmune Diseases that Affect the Eyes

Autoimmune disorders can be tedious and painful. If you suffer from an autoimmune disorder, then you might be a little confused about the inner workings of your disease. Not only are autoimmune diseases significant to your overall health, but they also can be extremely confusing. So whether you were just diagnosed, or you’ve been living with your disease for years, you might still have questions about the disease that is running rampant through your body.

One of the most important things you can do for your health is to go to the doctor regularly in order to keep tabs on all of your body systems. Eye doctors are especially important to patients who suffer from autoimmune diseases. Many of the disorders that affect a person’s joints and muscles can also cause painful inflammation in the eyes.

So, if you are one of the millions of sufferers of an autoimmune disease, then make an appointment with your eye doctor ASAP, especially if you suffer from one of the following disorders.

Behcet’s Disease

Behcet’s disease is known as a gnarly autoimmune disease that can cause blindness. Fortunately, it’s very rare and can often be treated if caught early. The disease affects a variety of body systems, and often presents itself with symptoms in the mouth and eyes. Patients with this disease will notice an increase in mouth ulcers and sores, and blurry vision due to inflammation in the eyes.

The disease was founded in 1937 by a dermatologist by the name of Hulusi Behcet. In 1924, a patient came to see him complaining of constant mouth sores and eye issues. After seeing the patient for years, Dr. Behcet reported the patient’s symptoms and his findings to the Journal of Skin and Venereal Diseases in 1936. Today, the disease is widely recognized in the medical world.

Autoimmune Diseases that Affect the EyesSymptoms of Behcet’s Disease are often isolated to the mouth and eyes, although symptoms can appear throughout the body. Some of the eye symptoms that are associated with the disease include uveitis in the posterior and anterior of the eye and retinal vasculitis.

All of these symptoms can cause eye pain, blurry vision and dry eyes. Treatment of the disease is often catered to the patient’s symptoms. For eye symptoms, ophthalmologists often prescribe steroid eye drops and pain relievers to keep the inflammation in the eyes to a minimum.

Unfortunately, over time, Behcet’s Disease can cause blindness is some of its sufferers. If you have any of the eye symptoms listed above, then it’s important to visit your eye doctor and ask about the disorder. People who are diagnosed with the disease early can be treated properly, and will have a higher chance of keeping their vision as they grow older.

Lupus and Eye Problems

Lupus is a systematic disorder that is classified as a disease with widespread inflammation and pain. The disease often presents itself differently in each patient, and is commonly difficult to diagnose for this reason. Rheumatologists can diagnose the disease in patients who have presented with similar symptoms for many months.

They also utilize a variety of serological tests to check for blood markers that indicate an autoimmune disease. Symptoms of lupus are often widespread and include headaches, fatigue, joint pain, massive inflammation and a general feeling of anxiety. Often patients who present with these symptoms report feeling run down and not having very much energy.

Lupus can also cause a variety of eye issues, which normally don’t present themselves as primary symptoms; however they may occur as the disease progresses. Eye issues with lupus mostly include chronic dry eyes and eye pain. Sjogren’s syndrome is another autoimmune disease that many Lupus sufferers also have. Sjogren’s syndrome is a disease that causes mucus membranes in your body to dry up. This leads to dry eyes, among other symptoms.

Lupus itself can also lead to dry eyes occasionally. Another issue that affects eye health with Lupus comes from taking the popular drug Plaquenil. This drug is known to cause retinal detachment in many patients, which can lead to blindness or severe loss of vision in many patients if it isn’t treated immediately. Other eye issues that might stem from Lupus include conjunctivitis, iritis, and retinal vasculitis.

Other Autoimmune Disorders and Eye Health

Your eyes are an important organ in your body that help you function properly. Many people when faced with the idea of losing their sight become agitated and highly anxious. The idea of going blind someday strikes fear in many people’s heart and minds. So, if you do have an autoimmune disorder, even one other than Lupus, Sjogren’s Syndrome or Behcet’s Disease, then you might want to ask your doctor about possible eye issues that could occur.

Most of the eye problems associated with autoimmune diseases are simple, and easy to fix, but some of the problems can be threatening to your vision. This is why it is super important to listen to your doctor and be honest about your symptoms. You wouldn’t want to realize too late that your eyes could be affected by your illness.

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22 comments to Autoimmune Diseases that Affect the Eyes
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  1. Arnett bowers #

    Eyes. Always. Running. And. Body. Aches

  2. philip #

    NO! eye problems associated with auto-immune disease are NOT easy to fix. Most optometrist in practice are not capable of treating chronic eye pain. They only treat acute problems. Autoimmune disease and chronic daily eye pain is something eye ‘doctors’ have limited ability to treat,

    • M. #

      That’s right! I read that and said to myself, “you’ve got to be kidding me!” I’ve been struggling with eye issues due to autoimmunity and it’s getting worse. Optometrists and specialists have no answers!

  3. Natalie #

    I find this interesting as my astigmatism acts up when I touch something like alcohol or a trigger food that flares up my joints and autoimmune issues. So little is known about this.

    When I take my LDN and stay on a careful diet, my eyes are perfect.

    • L #

      23 and me for genetic testing. Sounds like gluten allergy which could be Celiac or gluten sensitivity. Try having a drink that is gluten free and see what happens. Titios vodka, Chandon Champagnes and Moet and Chandon are gluten free.I have verified through emails to the companies.There are quite a few ciders too that are gluten free. Be aware of products that just claim Gluten free as the FDA allows so many parts per million can’t remember what it is but enough to make someone sick. If you are Celiac or gluten sensitive watch the labels on foods. look for “Made in a dedicated gluten free facility” Because just gluten free labels do not mean it is sadly. I hope the laws change so people understand better and the food companies have to have better standards and clean up their food. Stay away from Nitrates and sulfates in foods and alcohol. It cramps me up and makes me ache. T are many foods now bacon, lunch meats, olives, that do not contain nitrates. Many organic things do not although expensive unfortunately. I hope this helps, good luck

      • Sharon Curtiss #

        First gluten is related to grains, not any other food. Second any sugars effect your eyesight. Sugars are highly inflammatory otherwise categorized as pro-inflammatory. Your eyesight will worsen and the tissues around the eye will be effected by sugar i.e., drying, wrinkling. Get off of those and it will improve. Weight also effects your eyesight, as well as everything your eat – like preservatives. It will cause increased arthritic pain, GI distress, increased asthma symptoms by increasing mucus, it effects every system. They also know now that Alzheimers is actually a third form diabetes where the inflammation has effected the brain and the plaques and tangles are a response to the inflammation. Inflammation is a necessary and vital response in the healing progress, but there are problems when this process does not shutdown which is the basis of autoimmune diseases. The body goes on to attack, damage and destroy normal tissue. Inflammation breaks down tissue, rebuilds it or stablizes it, it is how scarring and adhesions form. For example people who are prone to keloid scarring and build up too much tissue on their skin, but some people only have this happen internally and don’t know until they have a surgery, like carpel tunnel and have to have it again, people who develop frozen shoulder after rotator cuff surgery,or where the body produces too much new tissue, i.e. bone after spinal injury or surgery and it encroaches on the spinal cord or fuses vertebrae together – it is an over aggressive inflammatory progress of the body. If you keep your body in a continual inflammatory state with sugars then you put yourself at high risk of cancer. Inflammation from just what we eat causes more medical diseases and disorders, cripples and kills each year more than any other source of disease or injury. Oh and many things are label gluten free when they never had gluten in the first place. Labels are deceiving they are a marketing tool, same goes with fat free or cholesterol free, or salt free. Fat free is high in sugar, salt free but high in sodium – and sodium is the issue not salt. Salt is needed for your adrenals to function properly, the sodium/potassiium pump – salt restricted,how is your energy? Cholesterol – low well how are your joints, your eyes, do you get sick a lot, need hormone replacement? Fats – if you aren’t getting Omega 3s, not eating fish or the right fish every week, how do you sleep, arthrits or other inflammation, get sick a lot, tired, fatigued, anxiety, depression, neurological disorders, asthma, any neuromuscular disorders, diabetes, memory and concentration problems – just about every disease and disorders, especially autoimmune, and psychiatric disorder is being linked to Omega 3 defiency by the traditional medical researchers and most of us are deficient and that deficiency stops our bodies from controlling an overproduction of certain chemicals that disrupt our immune chemical production – this one thing. Also gluten sensitivity is real, you don’t have to have Celiacs to have a problem, but an HLA test would prove that you may have one of the three genetic markers for Celiacs and the researchers themselves have said that could be enough to have symptoms, but test negative for the disease and so as it could be other disease symptoms you may have, but have tested negative for. Remember there has been progress but we really still know so little and a lot of egos have prevented sharing info that doesn’t fit the medical model. When I was in medical school they finally ran the HLA test and the result revealed that I had the genetic markers for everything I had experienced and complained about but tested negative for and it was predictive of things to come. We don’t know it all and the profession accepts even less. Do real research on the internet, educate yourself, but do not listen to people who do not have the legitimate background and are just trying to get their piece of a market with a disease du jour, any current fad – a good rule of thumb is if they are selling something or claim to have the answer and it is yours for the sum of …. Start reading peer reviewed research,everything is available online and much of it is for free. If there is something you do not understand, then just keep googling terms or go to wikipedia, it is objective and has no vested interest in what you believe.

  4. Helen #

    My sister lost her eyesight due to an autoimmune disease. She was diagnosed to late. Can any of her eyesight be restored?

  5. Krystal spriggs #

    My boyfriend lost his vision completely 3 years ago is there any chance or way for him to get it back or to be able to see again

  6. cathi #

    I have multi autoimmune diseases.for 2 months now, I have been having eye sight problems. It’s like someone smeared oil all over my eyes. Some days its the left eye, then the right eye and other days both eyes. So many tests are being done with no answers. In between time, I just can’t take it anymore

    • Anonymous #

      Make sure they send you to an eye clinic at the hospital

    • L #

      I just posted a comment below about Celiac disease. It is hard to diagnose and causes many similar but some different problems for every individual. Most doctors do not know much about it although they are learning more as more are getting diagnosed. It effected my whole body and eyes also. See a retina specialist and have a thorough exam and see a different Dr too. Get a couple opinions. The website 23 and me offers genetic testing for a panel of autoimmune disorders and the ones you carry will come up on tests and much cheaper also. Celiac disease is a tough one because it hides itself behind other autoimmune disorders it brings out. If you have not ever had your Thyroid tested by blood labs you should but don’t stop there have a thyroid ultrasound also. Many doctors won’t want to do this if they do blood labs and your lab levels are normal however both of my daughters had thyroid nodules seen on ultrasound that i demanded, but clean blood labs. 3 of my friends now i have told this too same thing. Your health do everything you can. Good luck

  7. Alexa #

    Thank you for the information. I recently noticed that I have all symptoms of eye floaters. My primary diagnosis is crps (RSD) , which many believe is an peripheral and CNS autoimmune disease, at least in a subset of patients. Very rarely, are any crps comorbidities mentioned when they are associated with a long list of conditions, including floaters. I wish more medical authors would include CRPS when applicable. Please consider correcting this. It would be very helpful to the CRPS community.

    • jesse #

      Hi. I seem to have the same symptoms. A lot of body pain. Mainly joints after flare ups. Each flare up seems to leave more floaters on my eyes. Does anyone have the same experience and have they been able to treat the floaters or have they gone away on their own?

      I have found that my triggers for flare ups are:

      Wheat
      Soy
      Coffee

      • L #

        Have you been genetically tested for Celiac Disease ? Do not have the Celiac panel testing done as it has a very high false negative. It happened to me and my kids and i researched and found the genetic testing . We were all tested and it came back positive.I was very sick and seeing multiple doctors for autoimmune disorders including an eye doctor. I started having blurred vision, double vision pain high ocular pressure, well my eye doctor hid what was wrong with my eyes and kept me coming in to the office. I suffered a retina tear and detachment and emergency painful horrible surgery. I know have filed a lawsuit against them for not disclosing my medical condition to me with my eyes I have paid thousand of out of pocket including what my insurance paid.I have proof of this. Eyes are important i told this doctor every visit my horrible pain and symptoms and out of 3 different doctors in that office that saw me none of them tell me and i had to go through all of that horribleness!! Now i find out more patients just like me from that office. Get 2 or 3 opinions from different eye doctors.Also find a retina specialist as they can examine and tell you everything about your eyes Find a University by you they have higher standards than the small eye doctors offices do The genetic was expensive but since then i found out about the website 23 and Me. This is not only for heritage but they also offer genetic testing for a panel of things so you can find out a lot more and quick this way also.Its much cheaper also and will give you answers hopefully and you can go from there. Good luck

  8. Judy muirhead #

    I have had problems for the past 8 months, been to 8 eye Dr’s 2 mD, now a allergist..they think it’s auto immune..my eyes feel full of water always, red..pain..I can’t go on with this..I will be going for more blood work, I only cam pray they figure this out..

    • Valerie #

      Hello did you find any answers?

  9. Stephanie #

    I have the same symptoms as you are describing!
    did they ever figure it out??

  10. Valerie #

    My dog passed away on the 1st..And I stressed out so bad now I have daily floaters and I am straining with my vision. Hard to explain not blurred but it’s like I’m watching everything through the television..I don’t know how to describe this..I do have joint pain..3 years ago tested for lupus and RA. Both negative but my Rheumatologist said I had inflammation either food allergin or something with the season.. I know I have leaky gut because of my IBS and reflux. Currently taking pre/ and probiotics that’s getting my tummy issues back on track.. but my vision is stressing me out…Anyone else out there with this?

    • L #

      Read what i wrote above about Celiac disease so many people are sick and more are getting diagnosed. 23 and me for genetic testing and less expensive.Good luck

  11. Judee #

    I have CFS and autoimmune disorders run in my family. The last 6-8 months I have extremely dry eyes. Plus, I have noticed that one pupil gets twice as large as the other. For years I have reported episodes of severe double vision to my doctors. With recent changes in the medical industry it seems like my clinic won’t let me go to an actual Ophthalmologist. They only let me go to the Optometrist and I don’t think he’s given me a correct diagnosis.

    • Vijay #

      Check for Occular Myasenia Gravis.

  12. Sara #

    I was recently told by an eye doctor that I have scars all over both of my eyes….. most likely from an auto immune disease that affects the eyes….I am left with a lot of questions. I want even told the name of it. Where do I go from here? Should I go to my normal doctor and see what she can find or just let it go? He does have me scheduled to see him again in a year to make sure scars aren’t worse.
    Thanks

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