What Autoimmune Diseases Affect Dry Eyes?

Autoimmune disease is a broad term describing any health disorder that results in the body attacking itself in an inflammatory manner. The most common autoimmune diseases include Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Myasthenia Gravis, Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO), Psoriatic Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Sjogren’s, and Thyroid Disease. Every disorder causes inflammation throughout the body, including the lacrimal gland. The lacrimal gland is the structure responsible for making healthy tears that hydrate the eye. When it is inflamed, it cannot produce enough tears to properly moisturize the eye resulting in dry eye disease.

How Can I Prevent Autoimmune Related Dry Eyes?

Controlling your systemic autoimmune disease is one of the key factors in the successful management of dry eyes. Keeping up with your systemic medications helps control the inflammation affecting your tear production. However, dry eye still can persist even with the best systemic management. The use of artificial tears is a common and easy way to control dryness throughout the day. It is important to use tears even if your eyes do not feel dry, especially if you have been diagnosed by an eye care provider already with autoimmune-related dry eyes. If your symptoms are not manageable by artificial tears alone, contact your eye care provider to explore other dry eye treatments you might be eligible to begin.

Can Autoimmune Related Dry Eyes Affect My Vision?

The tears are the first part of the eye that directs light to the retina to form a clear image. When the eye is dry, it can impact your quality of vision throughout the day. Autoimmune disorders tend to wax and wane in their systemic symptoms. In the same manner, dry eyes can vary throughout a season or even the same day which leads to unpredictable changes in your day-to-day vision. The best way to prevent these daily changes in vision is to continue your doctor-recommended dry eye treatments even if your eyes feel good and your vision seems fine. Just like your systemic medications should be taken daily, so should your dry eye medications.