Having an auto-immune disorder can be frightening enough on its own without thinking about things like your vision. Unfortunately, it's possible for these conditions to impact your vision and eye health in general. If you're concerned about it, here's what you need to know about the potential complications of your auto-immune disorder and your eyes.
What an Auto-Immune Disorder Can Do
Auto-immune disorders are when the body's immune system attacks healthy cells. Something goes wrong with the detection system and the body recognizes its own cells that are supposed to be there as the enemy — invading foreign bodies. So the immune system attacks them and damages them, or in some cases, destroys them.
Unfortunately, this can happen in your eyes, as well. Inflammation and cell damage can occur from an auto-immune disorder like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
What it Can Cause
In some cases, auto-immune disorders can cause secondary auto-immune disorders that target the eyes specifically. The most common one is uveitis.
Uveitis is a condition in which the eye becomes inflamed and irritated, and the cells are damaged by the auto-immune disorder. Without treatment, it can result in damage to your vision or outright blindness.
What to Do
If you've been diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder, you should start seeing an eye doctor immediately. Eye doctors are able to look deeply into the eye with their ophthalmoscopes. This allows them to see indicators of uveitis and auto-immune damage like dead cells and inflammation.
Uveitis and auto-immune disorders of the eye can be treated. If your eye doctor finds evidence that you've experienced damage to the eyes from one of these disorders, they'll likely prescribe a steroid eye drop. Steroids help by reducing the immune system reaction so that fewer white blood cells attack healthy cells. It's not a cure, but it helps to reduce any damage done to the eyes. By prescribing it in a steroid, it stays local and doesn't affect the entire body. This prevents you from experiencing some of the notorious and unwanted steroid side effects like weight gain.
Even if your eye doctor doesn't notice damage, it's a good idea to keep going at least on a yearly basis. This will ensure that any signs are caught early on and treated.
Auto-immune disorders can target the entire body, including the eyes. If you're worried about protecting your vision, make an appointment with an eye doctor ASAP.