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Autoimmune Eye Disorders

Autoimmune Eye Disorders | JSS Hospital Blog

Autoimmune eye disorders are conditions where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues in the eye. This can lead to inflammation, damage, and vision problems. These disorders can affect different parts of the eye, such as the cornea, iris, retina, and optic nerve.

Depending on the particular disease, symptoms can differ, however can include redness, pain, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light. Common conditions that are referred to the Rheumatologist are discussed below.


What is Scleritis?

Scleritis is inflammation of the sclera. Most often, there is an infection. The sclera is the white tissue that forms the outside wall of the eye. There are two main types of scleritis:

  • Anterior scleritis: affects the front part of the eye. This is the morecommon type.
  • Posterior scleritis: affects the back part of the eye.

What causes scleritis?

Scleritis is usually associated with autoimmune diseases. Your immune systemprotects typically your body from infection and keeps you from getting sick.

Autoimmune diseases cause this system to attack healthy parts of your body by mistake. Common
examples of autoimmune conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and inflammatory bowel

The cause of scleritis when these other diseases are not present is unknown.

What are the symptoms of scleritis?

Symptoms of scleritis may include:

  • Redness and swelling of the white part of the eye
  • Severe eye pain or aching, which can extend to other parts of your faceand jaw
  • Blurred vision
  • Watery eyes
  • Sensitivity to light

Having one or more of these symptoms does not mean that you have scleritis.
However, if you experience any, you should see your eye doctor immediatelyfor a complete eye exam.

How is scleritis treated?

Scleritis is often treated using steroids or other anti-inflammatory pills and/or eye drops prescribed by your eye doctor. These medications work to reduce pain and swelling in the eye. If another disease causes your case within the body, treatment of that condition may be helpful in controlling your scleritis. Even with treatment, scleritis may return.

You must see your eye doctor and other specialists regularly to help treat and manage your scleritis.


What is uveitis?

Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea, which is the eye’s middle layer.

The part of the uvea that is easiest to see is the iris. The iris is the coloured part of the eye – the part that is brown, grey, blue or green.

When the uvea or the iris becomes inflamed, inflammatory cells collect and float around the eye.

These cells cause blurry vision, make your eye hurt, and make you very sensitive to light.

What causes uveitis?

Uveitis may occur after an eye trauma or surgery. Some viruses (such as shingles or herpes simplex) and systemic inflammatory diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or sarcoidosis) can cause uveitis as well. Since some diseases cause uveitis, inform your eye doctor of other health issues you may be experiencing. However, in most cases, the cause of the disease is unknown. Uveitis most often occurs as an autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system attacks the eye despite no infection.

What are the symptoms of uveitis?

Patietnts with uveitis can present with either

  • Redness of the eye
  • Light sensitivity
  • Floaters (small spots in your line of vision)
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain

How is uveitis treated?

Treatment may include steroid eye drops, injections, or pills. You might also receive eye drops to reduce the pain.


Some patients may have dry eyes, dry mouth, and easy fatiguability. One of the common autoimmune causes is Sjogren Syndrome. This condition can be diagnosed with special blood tests.

If you suffer from these symptoms, please visit your nearby Rheumatologist.

Treatment typically involves managing inflammation and controlling the immune response to prevent further eye damage. Early detection and treatment are essential to prevent vision loss.

Dr Mahabaleshwar Mamadapur,
Assistant Professor,
Dept of Clinical Immunology and rheumatology,
JSS Medical College and Hospital,Mysore.

Dr Nikhil R,
Senior Resident,
Dept of Clinical Immunology and rheumatology,
JSS Medical College and Hospital,Mysore.