Seeing Is Diagnosing? 3 Autoimmune Disorders That Can Affect Your Eyes

Going in to see the optometrist can tell you a lot about your ocular health — whether or not you have dry eyes, how much your vision can improve with contacts or glasses, if you're a good candidate for laser eye surgery — but did you know that it can tell you a lot about the health of the rest of your body as well?

There are a ton of autoimmune diseases out in the world, but a few of them can wreak havoc with your eyes and your eyesight; luckily, these problems could help pin down a diagnosis and get you on the way to help. So if you're wondering what autoimmune disorders can affect your eyes, then here's what you need to know.

Multiple Sclerosis

Like most autoimmune disorders, the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) are many and varied; there are, however, a lot of symptoms that your optometrist might be able to pick up on. Double vision (diplopia) is a particularly blatant example; a few tests with the letter board might be all it takes for your doctor to realize that you're seeing double.

Optic neuritis is another common ocular complication of MS; this condition is where your optic nerve becomes inflamed and can cause your vision to blur, gray, or even fade out, causing partial blindness. By looking closely at your eye, your optometrist should be able to see this inflammation and inform you and your physician.


Possibly the most famous autoimmune disease due to its distinctive butterfly rash, lupus can present in a series of ocular symptoms, aiding your doctor in diagnosing it. Not only can it cause inflammation and dry eyes/eyelids, it can also do some more serious damage, such as damaging the nerves in your eyes and the muscles that control your eye movements.

Lesions in the retina are the most common ocular symptom of lupus and can decrease your vision, leading to partial or even full blindness. Your optometrist can look for these lesions before they do too much damage, especially if other ocular symptoms are present.

Behcet's Disease

At least partly genetic, this so-called "silk road disease" can cause sores all over your body, arthritis, and inflammation of and around your eyes. Usually one of the first symptoms of Behcet's disease, this inflammation can lead to partial blindness, a decrease of your field of vision, an increase of eye floaters, pain, and redness.

Luckily, with so many ocular symptoms, your optometrist should be able to identify at least one or two quickly during the course of your visit, giving you more information with which to seek diagnosis and treatment. Click to discover more about eye-related diseases.