Does Lupus Have Any Effect On Your Eye Health?

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect various body parts. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system, which is supposed to protect the body from foreign invaders, mistakenly attacks the body's own cells. According to the Johns Hopkins Lupus Center, antinuclear antibodies which attack the cells are found in about 98% of people with lupus.

Living with lupus can be challenging, as the condition can be unpredictable, and symptoms can flare up or go into remission. The symptoms can vary widely, including fatigue, joint pain and swelling, skin lesions, and fever. Lupus can also affect eye health, which can potentially cause issues with vision, says the Lupus Foundation of America. It's important to be aware of the potential eye-related complications and to seek medical attention if you experience any changes in your vision or eye health. With proper medical care and self-care, many people with lupus are able to manage their symptoms successfully and live full, active lives.

How does lupus affect eye health?

Lupus can cause a variety of eye-related complications, including retinal vasculitis, an inflammatory eye condition. According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Rheumatology, retinal vasculitis in lupus can take several forms, including cotton-wool spots and vasoocclusion. The study highlights a case study where retinal hemorrhages and intraocular inflammation were found in one patient with lupus.

Lupus can also cause various neurological and ophthalmic complications, including neuro-ophthalmic involvement that can cause damage to nerve fibers, possibly resulting in vision loss, per the Lupus Foundation of America. Dry eye syndrome is another common eye-related complication of lupus. It can cause discomfort, burning eyes, blurred vision, and a gritty feeling in the eyes.

Another potential but rare eye-related complication of lupus is uveitis. According to the Hospital of Special Surgery, uveitis refers to inflammation in the uvea, the middle layer of the eye. Uveitis can affect anywhere in the eye, causing symptoms such as eye redness, pain, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision, says the hospital.

What are the available treatment options for eye conditions caused by lupus?

If you have lupus and experience severe eye-related symptoms, your doctor can help devise a suitable treatment plan. Treatment for conditions such as retinal issues may involve medications (such as corticosteroids or immunosuppressants) to control inflammation and prevent flare-ups, according to Medical News Today. When concerning dry eyes, the source also states that treatment may include over-the-counter eye drops. These can help lubricate the eyes. 

Additionally, corticosteroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may be prescribed for the treatment of dry eyes. Surgery might also be required to improve tear production in more severe cases of dry eyes caused by lupus. Treatment for uveitis also involves a combination of corticosteroids and immunosuppressants to control inflammation and manage lupus symptoms, per Cleveland Clinic. Regular monitoring by an ophthalmologist may also be needed to check for any changes in the eye.