If you've been diagnosed with lupus, then it's important to remember that the way the disease affects you may change as you age and as you try various treatments.You should always be on the lookout for new symptoms that may be related to your lupus. A lot of patients overlook eye-related lupus symptoms, which results in needless suffering and visual struggles that could be better addressed if they were aware these eye problems were related to their lupus. Here's a look at three ways lupus can affect your eyes -- and how you can deal with these issues.
Corneal ulcers are holes or sores that can develop on the surface of your cornea, which is the clear covering of your eye. These can be very painful. If you have a corneal ulcer, your eye will be very red, sore, and sensitive to light. You may have trouble keeping your eyelid(s) open. People with lupus are at an increased risk of corneal ulcers; the disease can attack the tear-producing glands, leading to dry eyes that are easily scratched.
If you develop a corneal ulcer, seek treatment from your ophthalmologist, and be sure to tell him or her that you suffer from lupus. The corneal ulcer will typically be treated with a combination of antibiotics and steroids to prevent infection and speed healing. Your eye doctor may also recommend long-term use of moistening eye drops to help prevent future corneal ulcers. Repeated corneal ulcers may indicate that it's time to increase your lupus medication doses; however, don't do this without consulting with your physician.
Blurry vision is also related to the lack of tear production that's so common among lupus patients. This may be the only real symptom of dry eyes that you notice. Your vision might start off okay in the morning, but then become blurrier throughout the day as your eyes become dryer.
If you have lupus and your vision suddenly starts to seem blurrier, it's important to see your eye doctor to rule out more serious causes. However, there's a good chance it's just due to dry eyes and will clear up once your eye doctor prescribes you some moistening eye drops.
Optical Nerve Degeneration
In some cases, lupus may begin affecting the optic nerve. This can lead to a number of alarming symptoms, such as double vision and trouble focusing. If you're having these troubles, your eye doctor will run a series of tests to visualize your optic nerve and assess the severity of the damage. In most cases, the nerve damage is irreversible. However, there are steps that can keep the damage from progressing any further. These may include changing your lupus medications, adding additional immune-inhibiting drugs to your protocol, or undergoing surgery to alleviate pressure on your optic nerve. (Pressure exerted by nearby tissues often contributes to the issue.)
As someone with lupus, you need to keep a close watch on your eye health. Make sure you're visiting your eye doctor for regular checkups so that any problems are caught early.