Autoimmune Disorders that Affect the Eyes: Part 3

Autoimmune Disorders that Affect the Eyes: Part 3

Today I’m concluding my series on autoimmune disorders that affect the eyes.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Dry eyes can also be a symptom of Sjogren’s syndrome — an autoimmune disorder that’s often associated with rheumatoid arthritis. More rarely, rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation in the white part (sclera) of your eyes, which can result in redness and pain.

Click here to read more about Rheumatoid Arthritis

Thyroid Diseases

Although thyroid eye disorders occur at any age, the average age at onset is 45 years. There are three times as many females with thyroid eye disorders.  Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease, and can be more likely to occur in patients with other autoimmune diseases (ex. Type I Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis) Thyroid eye disease is mainly associated with hyperthyroidism from Graves’ disease, although it does sometimes occur in patients who are hypothyroid or euthyroid.

Symptoms of Thyroid Eye Disease

  • Eye watering
  • redness
  • light sensitivity (photophobia)
  • eyelid swelling
  • retraction of the eyelid

Type 1 diabetes

Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye conditions that can affect people with diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy affects blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissue called the retina that lines the back of the eye. It is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness among working-age adults.

Diabetic macular edema (DME). DME is the build-up of fluid (edema) in a region of the retina called the macula. The macula is important for the sharp, straight-ahead vision that is used for reading, recognizing faces, and driving. DME is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetic retinopathy. About half of all people with diabetic retinopathy will develop DME. Although it is more likely to occur as diabetic retinopathy worsens, DME can happen at any stage of the disease.

Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. Adults with diabetes are 2-5 times more likely than those without diabetes to develop cataract. Cataract also tends to develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes.

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve—the bundle of nerve fibers that connects the eye to the brain. Some types of glaucoma are associated with elevated pressure inside the eye. In adults, diabetes nearly doubles the risk of glaucoma.

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease

Extraintestinal manifestations of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are conditions associated with IBD that do not directly involve the intestinal tract.


Eye manifestations are estimated to affect approximately 10 percent of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients.

Episcleritis and scleritis are characterized by red, inflamed-looking whites of the eye, mild pain, and watery eyes. Of course, “mild pain” is subjective. Some patients may experience itching or burning in the eyes. Episcleritis is somewhat more serious. It affects the thin, outermost layer of tissue between the conjunctiva and the sclera (the connective tissue layer that makes up the white of the eye).


Symptoms may include:

  • redness
  • pain
  • sensitivity to light
  • headaches
  • floating spots in the field of vision (floaters)
  • diminished vision
  • and/or a whitish patch towards the lower portion of the iris

Click here to read more about Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease.

Autoimmune Disorders that Affect the Eyes #behcet #lupus #MS #psoriasis #RA #Sjogrens

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