When it comes to eye conditions related to the condition of fibromyalgia, individuals may notice they experience the following:
- Double vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to touch
- Dry eyes
- Blurry vision
- Tearing eyes
- Eye pain
- Visual distortion
- Difficulty shifting focus
- Flashing lights
- Macular degeneration
- Frequently changing contacts/glasses prescription
- Difficulty wearing contacts (due to sensitivity to touch)
While it is true that all of the above problems can occur with or without common medications used to treat the condition of fibro- they typically become worse due to medications that are given.
Following are some of the common causes for these eye conditions:
Dry eyes are a very common issue when it comes to the condition of fibro and is often mistakenly diagnosed as Sjogren’s syndrome, which is a commonly overlapping disorder in which the immune system of the body attacks the glands that produce moisture such as the salivary or tear glands.
However, this is typically a misdiagnosis. However, there is a syndrome that is commonly seen, known as Sicca Syndrome that is very common with the condition of fibro.
Though the baseline symptoms of both of these are the same, the treatments are very different.
One small study did find decreased tear production in approximately 90 percent of those individuals with the condition of fibro.
Some experience has also revealed that dry mouth is also quite common.
Sicca Syndrome is a treatable condition- but, like the condition of fibro, it does not have a cure.
This syndrome is the result of autoimmune disorders that cause injury to the glands that produce saliva and tears, and can also be aggravated by deficiencies in nutrition as well as common fibro medications and other medications such as the following:
- Birth control pills
- ACE inhibitors
- Acne medications
- Common pain relievers
The condition of Sicca Syndrome has the underlying cause of a malfunction with the immune system.
In this condition, the immune cells actually attack the cells that come from the exocrine glands.
Very slowly, the glands actually begin to fail in their functioning of providing proper hydration through the body.
As mentioned already, there is no cure for the condition of Sicca Syndrome. Therefore, the treatment of this condition primarily focuses on making up for the exocrine gland failure and keeping your organs properly hydrated.
As far as treating dryness of eyes, artificial tears should be administered on a daily basis along with prescription medications, which will help to increase the flow of saliva.
There are also some other medications that can help offer protection to your internal organs from any complications that may arise.
Risk for Dry Eye
You are at an increased risk for experiencing dry eye if you are:
- Over the age of 50
- Are a woman who has been through menopause
- Have some medical condition that causes a reduction in your natural tear production.
In addition to fibro, some of the other medical conditions related to dry eye include the following:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Vitamin A deficiencies
- Thyroid disorders
There are some nutritional deficiencies that could lead to dry eye, such as:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B complex
- Vitamin E
Treating Dry Eyes
There are many things you can do to help to reduce discomfort and pain. These are as follows:
Sensitivity to environment
When you are indoors, try to avoid fluorescent lights- if you have them in your home, get rid of them. When you are outside, try to always wear sunglasses, or at least tinted lenses- it can also be helpful to wear a hat.
If you work or live in a dry environment, avoid wearing contact lenses- which, in most cases, individuals with fibro are not able to wear them anyway, due to touch sensitivity.
If you have dry eyes, make sure that you are using artificial tears to keep your eyes moist.
Consider visiting an eye specialist, as tear ducts can become clogged- an eye specialist can help you to keep natural tears longer.
Take a look at the medications you are on and speak with your physician about changing medications if any of them cause drying effects. During the winter and in dry areas, make sure that you are using a humidifier.
Before you have an eye exam, make sure that your eyes are moisturized due to the fact that fluctuating moisture levels can result in a fluctuation in visual perception, as moisture can affect light refraction.
If you experience eye strain/pain, you can do gentle exercises to help stretch out your eye muscle trigger points.
While some of these may be painful due to the condition of fibro, they must be done to help you see better.
In order to avoid your eyes becoming overwhelmed, try to anticipate eye fog and keep focused on one thing at a time.
Wear the right glasses- especially when reading. Keep in mind that individuals with fibro will most likely change their eye prescription much more often than those who do not have fibro.
When you are reading, make sure that there is adequate lighting and pay attention for eye fatigue- there should not be too much or too little. The page you are reading should be lit, but not the entire room.
In addition, black and white print may not be the best choice- but if that’s what you have, consider getting tinted lenses and you may see that it’s easier to read.
Eye conditions are common no matter who you are. However, for individuals with fibro, they may find that they experience eye problems more often.
Their prescriptions change more frequently- therefore, it’s a good idea to regularly visit your ophthalmologist or other eye specialist.