Having an autoimmune disease means you may need to pay more attention to your eye health. Being meticulous about how you care for your eyes and talking with your doctor if you notice problems can prevent small problems from becoming a threat to your vision.
Know Which Eye Exams You Need
Depending on the medications you take or the specific autoimmune disease you have, a yearly visit to an optometrist may not be enough. If you take hydroxychloroquine, you should have yearly exams by an ophthalmologist. This medication is associated with retinal problems, which is usually reversible, but can happen after many years of being on the medication. Eye exams performed by an ophthalmologist are more in-depth than those performed by an optometrist.
They will examine your retina, which requires your pupils to be dilated. Additionally, your ophthalmologist may want to test your tear production. One type of autoimmune disease, Sjogren's syndrome, affects the mucous-secreting glands and can make your eyes dry. It is common for people with autoimmune diseases to eventually develop Sjogren's. Fortunately, many ophthalmologists also write prescriptions for glasses and/or contact lenses, so you may not need an additional eye exam if you have vision correction needs.
Protect Your Eyes
You should be more vigilant about protecting your eyes from the sun and harsh lights. Many people with autoimmune diseases experience increased light sensitivity. Have sunglasses readily available that have a UV protection coating to minimize light sensitivity while protecting your eyes from the harmful sun rays. When you are indoors, it also helps to have lights attached to dimmer switches. If you cannot afford to have light fixtures in your home updated to include a dimmer switch, it is often easier to rely on lamps that can be dimmed or ones with a lamp shade to reduce harsh, direct lighting.
Reduce Your Eye Infection Risk
Protecting your eyes from germs can be more important when you have an autoimmune disease, especially if you take medications that increase your risk of infection. To minimize the chances of eye infections, try to keep your hands away from your eyes. When you need to rub your eyes because of allergies or it feels like there is something inside your eye, use a damp paper towel. If you wear contact lenses, be vigilant about washing your hands when inserting your contacts or removing them. Keep your contacts in a sealed container with the proper solution to avoid contamination. Although it is always important to not wear contacts overnight and to change to a fresh pair as instructed by your eye doctor, it is especially important if you are at an increased risk for infections.
Autoimmune diseases can make your eyes more sensitive and increase your risk for eye problems. Having regular eye exams and taking the proper precautions can reduce your chances of serious eye problems. Visit a site like http://www.absolutevisioncare.com for more help.