Systemic lupus is an autoimmune disease that leads to pain and inflammation in the body. Any area of the body can be affected by this chronic ailment. Although the joints, skin, and various organs, such as the heart, lungs, or kidneys, are commonly impacted, many people don’t realize that lupus is also capable of damaging the eyes.
Below, we take a look at some of the ways that lupus can cause problems that affect your eyes and vision.
The Various Ways That Lupus Can Impact the Health of Your Eyes
There are several ways that lupus can harm the eyes, and you can discuss the risks with your doctor, but we’ve put this list together to give you an idea of the different parts of the eyes that can be affected:
Some lupus patients might develop Sjogren’s syndrome, which causes insufficient tear production and dry eye. Also, the inflammation associated with lupus might damage the glands that produce tears. When this happens, the eyes aren’t properly lubricated. If your eyes feel scratchy or irritated, if it feels like something is in your eyes, if they burn, or if your vision becomes blurry, let your doctor know. You might be able to receive treatments, such as eye drops, that may help prevent this condition from getting worse.
Lupus is one of the causes of inflammation in the eyes, so there might be a risk of developing conditions like episcleritis, scleritis, or uveitis. Scleritis and episcleritis might lead to symptoms like tearing, pain, tenderness, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision. Also, the white part of the eye might become swollen or red. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you develop symptoms, as you don’t want to risk vision loss. Symptoms of uveitis might include floaters, blurred or decreased vision, light sensitivity, redness, or pain, so it’s best to tell your doctor right away if you experience these problems as well.
Optic neuritis, which may lead to vision loss, is a condition that develops when there’s inflammation that ends up damaging the eye’s optic nerve. It is yet another eye problem that might occur in some lupus patients.
Some patients with lupus might develop retinal vasculitis, which is inflammation of the retina’s blood vessels. Because this problem might result in mild to severe changes in vision, talking to your doctor as soon as possible is imperative.
If you’ve been diagnosed with lupus, it’s recommended that you see an eye doctor for check-ups and to discuss any symptoms you’re experiencing. Also, if you develop symptoms that are affecting your eyes or vision, let your eye doctor know ASAP so you can receive prompt treatment.
Even the Medication You Take Might Lead to Eye Problems!
As if the disease itself wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that some of the medications that are prescribed to treat lupus might also impact your eye health!
One example is hydroxychloroquine, which is also known as Plaquenil. This prescription might result in retinal toxicity. In other words, it might end up damaging the retina of the eye, especially if you need to take a high dose or you need to take it for a long stretch of time.
Having your eyes examined on a consistent basis, such as once a year, while taking medication to treat lupus is wise. If there are any changes, your doctor will notice them sooner rather than later. And the sooner your doctor realizes that there’s a problem, the quicker he or she can act to keep your eyes as healthy as possible.
It’s So Important to Work with Your Eye Doctor
Whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with a condition like lupus that can adversely affect your eye health, it’s important to find a doctor you can trust. By doing so, you’ll be able to have your eyes and your vision examined regularly. Plus, you’ll be able to receive treatments right away if you need them.
If you’re worried about being able to afford trips to the eye doctor, or you’re concerned about being able to pay for expensive glasses and contacts that you need to see clearly, don’t fret! With the right vision insurance, such as the plan offered by Spirit, you can get the financial support you need so you won’t have to miss any appointments.