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Autoimmune Diseases, Part 2

Eye Health
By Dr S.S. Gill
Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about more about AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES affecting the EYES.
Some of the eye complications of autoimmune diseases like dry eye syndrome and uveitis have been highlighted in the last issue of the Ipoh Echo. As discussed, eye problems associated with such autoimmune diseases may range from mild to serious. Here are more eye presentations, one of which such as glaucoma may be serious.

GLAUCOMA
This may result in blindness if left untreated. The inflammation in the eye can be so prolonged and severe that it causes the drainage angles in the eye to become blocked. This prevents the fluid in the eye (aqueous) from draining easily thereby causing the eye pressure to increase over time. High eye pressure causes blurring vision, haloes around lights and glare.
With the prolonged eye pressure, it eventually results in optic nerve damage. Vision-wise, the patient starts losing vision from the periphery and this is often referred to as “tunnel vision”. The peripheral vision loss can be determined by a perimetry or visual field test. Should the condition be left untreated, the visual outcome may be disastrous leading to dreaded blindness.
SCLERITIS
This is the inflammation of the white part of the eye. The white part becomes inflamed and the eye looks red. The patient experiences pain, blurred vision and becomes sensitive to light (photophobia).
This condition can be mistaken for conjunctivitis and a patient may often start using some antibiotic eye drops only to find out later that the problem does not become better and may have even become worse.
The scleritis is identified based on the area of the sclera (white of the eye) affected.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUFFER FROM AN AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE LIKE RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS?
Get your eyes checked annually. Be aware of eye problems that can occur because of your underlying arthritis. Watch out for them and seek professional help soon if they occur.
 

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