5 Ways Scleroderma Can Affect Your Eyes

Because scleroderma is an autoimmune disease which affects connective tissue, symptoms and complications can appear in any part of the body, including the eyes. We’ve put together a list of some of the common eye complications experienced by people living with scleroderma, with help from the Arthritis Foundation and sclero.org.

MORE: Six complications of scleroderma that need treatment

Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome or keratitis sicca is where the eyes are unable to maintain a healthy film of tears, which is essential for keeping the eyes lubricated and protecting them from dust. The eyes become very dry and sore and vision may be affected, typically becoming blurred. Without the film of tears, the retinas can become damaged and the eyes are more prone to infection.

The condition can be caused by scleroderma itself or some of the medications used to treat the symptoms of the disease. Changing medications or using false tears (eye drops) can help relieve the problem.

Retinal Vascular Occlusion
Retinal vascular occlusion is where the small blood vessels surrounding the retina become blocked. These thin arteries can become backed up just like the larger blood vessels in the body. Vision problems occur and patients experience a sensation of a curtain coming down over the eye — which can come and go or happen suddenly.

Damage can be permanent but sometimes the veins can be treated with laser eye surgery to relieve the surrounding inflammation and allow better blood flow.

MORE: The effects of living with scleroderma

Autoimmune Uveitis and Iritis
Uveitis is an inflammation of the layer of the eye between the retina and white of the eye (sclera). The most common form of uveitis is iritis, also known as inflammation of the iris.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms include eye pain, redness, blurred vision, seeing dark floating spots, decreased vision and light sensitivity. Anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive medications may be prescribed to treat the condition.

Glaucoma
Glaucoma is the term for eye diseases where the optic nerve becomes damaged due to high pressure inside the eye. Often without any symptoms, glaucoma gradually decreases vision and may be brought on by high blood pressure or reduced blood flow to the optic nerve.

Regular eye exams are crucial to spot glaucoma early, as it can lead to blindness if left untreated. Eye drops are usually prescribed to increase the outflow or production of fluid in the eye, laser eye surgery is also an option according to the Mayo Clinic.

MORE: Five ways you can help raise awareness of scleroderma

Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

3 comments

  1. kate menken-handford says:

    I had cataract with laser surgery and had the symphony lens implanted both eyes with in a week of each other in March of this year. My vision is worse, the glare, halos around lights, blueish curtain across my vision. Near and far. I complained bitterly as I could not even drive. Went back several times and was told to wait and see if the lenses and the brain would adjust. Did not happen. First he said he could remove and put the standard lens in or lasik treatment. Last visit he stated he did not want to touch my eyes and bluish curtain was due to my scleroderma and dry eyes and offered my progressive glasses, self tinting to cope with the glare. I feel that I am constantly trying to refocus. Has any one else had this experience and any solutions>

  2. Ingrid says:

    Go to Geoffrey Painter. I had been blind in one eye most of my life from a pair of sissors poked into my eye aged 2. Developed a ‘Stress Cateract’ which was so thick and old, & due to the age when I lost my sight, every specialist in the practice said they doubted I would get any sight back ever, but I wanted at least, to be able to see light instead of blackness, they doubted this as well. The team of specialists all said they had no idea what was behind this thick mass, if they would be able to remove it, and there was a high risk that I could actually loose sight in the other eye as well which had happened to another very wealthy Sydney socialite patient 20 years ago, she sued them in Australian High Court- & lost. (For this I had to sign indemnity forms etc) The outcome was what Mr Painter and all the other eye surgeons & specialists in the practice described as a “miracle”, and Mr Painter also said that out of his thousands of surgeries he’d performed, “this was by far his best surgery of the year”, because I now for the first time since age of 2, CAN SEE, not only light, but 20/20 vision, perfect, my optition says it’s better than 20/20😃! This team does volunteer eye surgery all over the world. I was told that he was the best surgeon in Australia, they were right! And, I have Systemic Sclerosis, which could have caused complications, but didn’t thankfully. I have the usual SScl eye symptoms, such bad dry eyes that I am unable to cry! I’m very blessed! Good luck!!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *