4 Things Lupus Sufferers Need To Know About Anterior Uveitis

Anterior uveitis, also known as iritis, is an eye condition characterized by inflammation of the uvea. The uvea, which includes your iris, is the middle layer of your eye. It's located just behind the visible, white portion of your eye. This painful eye condition can be caused by lupus, an autoimmune disease. Here are four things lupus sufferers need to know about anterior uveitis.

How does lupus cause this problem?

When you have lupus, your own immune system damages the tissues that make up your eyes. Antibodies attack the tissues, leading to damage or even death of the cells, and immune complex builds up in the blood vessels that supply the eyes.

What are the symptoms?

Anterior uveitis tends to develop quickly and may affect either one or both of your eyes. You may notice that your eyes are red and sore, that it hurts to look into lights, and that your vision is blurry. Some people also notice an increase in floaters, the black dots or squiggles that drift across your vision.

If you notice any of these symptoms, see an optometrist, like Baldwin Optical & Hearing Aid Co., immediately. Make sure to tell your optometrist that you have lupus, as knowing your relevant medical history helps them identify the issue.

Why is anterior uveitis a concern?

Anterior uveitis can lead to serious complications if it's not treated. For example, the condition can lead to glaucoma. This happens when the swelling of the urea makes your iris stick to the lens in the front of your eye, which traps fluid inside your eye. This leads to higher pressure inside your eye, and possible damage to your optic nerve and other important structures. Glaucoma is the world's leading cause of blindness, and there's no cure for it, so prevention is key.

Anterior uveitis can also lead to cataracts, a clouding of the lens of the eye. This happens when the inflamed uvea presses against the lens and irritates it. Cataracts can lead to blurred vision and even blindness. Fortunately, getting prompt treatment for your anterior uveitis can help you avoid these complications. 

Can it be treated?

The main treatment for anterior uveitis is corticosteroid eye drops. Usually, these drops are given every hour, though if your case is serious, you may be told to use them more frequently. If the swelling doesn't respond to the drops, your optometrist may inject corticosteroids into the middle layer of your eye. Corticosteroid pills can be used in very severe cases where neither drops nor injections are working.

If you have lupus and have red, sore eyes, you may have anterior uveitis and should see your optometrist right away.