Fibromyalgia is autoimmune condition that causes chronic mental and physical problems including fatigue, pain and even psychological distress. Research shows that over 6 million people in the Unites States alone are affected by this condition. According to NFA, or National Fibromyalgia Association, symptoms of fibromyalgia also include disturbances in sleep, sensitive skin, headaches, dizziness and impairment in coordination, dry eyes and problems with vision even potentially leading to blindness.
Did you know that eye has 6 main muscles to control its movement??
I certainly didn’t. And because fibromyalgia affects our nervous system, it stands to reason that it will affect our eyes and vision as well. The nervous system deteriorates in Fm patients, so the nerves to our eyes can deteriorate and cause problems. Its good idea to get your eye checked each year. My eyesight seems to keep changing, so I need to keep updating my prescription.
The affects that fibromyalgia have on the eyes can severely impact and individual’s ability to perform daily activities such as driving, especially at night. Also, detailed work, such as sewing can be affected because fibromyalgia can cause an individual to have blurry or double vision.
Pain in the eye
The National fibromyalgia Association says that pain associated with fibromyalgia is chronic and widespread. This includes pain in or near the eyes. This pain could be increased due to lack of sleep, fatigue, stress, and anxiety. The fibromyalgia pain affects the ocular muscles and can cause the eyes to be misaligned, which could also cause double or blurry vision (more on that in a bit)
Sensitivity to touch
There are some individuals with fibromyalgia that can’t wear glasses because the weight of the glasses on their face triggers the nerves in the neck and face, causing pain. This pain then radiates to the ears, nose and even teeth.
I was shocked to find the nerves that lead to the eye can become inflamed due to our FM, and in extreme cases can cause partial or total blindness.
Blurred or impaired vision
The ocular muscles that are affected by FM can cause us to experience double or blurred vision. This is especially true when I’m tired. I notice my vision is apt to get more blurry when I’m tired or looking at a screen too long whether it’s my phone, tablet or TV. To give my eyes a much-needed break, I listen to an audio book with my eyes closed. Blurry and double vision are common and can be linked to postural dizziness and vertigo. If I get up too fast I’ll get dizzy. I’ve had vertigo episodes off and on for more than 25 years.
In an individual with fibromyalgia, the symptoms of dry eyes can range from mild to severe. Fibromyalgia tends to dry out the mucous membrane of the mouth and nose as well as the eyes. This condition is called “sicca” and can make it virtually impossible to wear contacts due to discomfort. Some experts say that tear production could be decreased in around 90 percent of individuals with fibromyalgia and could be worsened by nutritional deficiencies as well as several medications.
Lack of sleep, stress, anxiety and fatigue can exacerbate eye pain. Dry eye and cluster headaches also cause me to have eye pain.
Sensitivity to light
Fibromyalgia can cause an individual to be sensitive to light. This means that individuals with fibromyalgia must wear very dark glasses any time they plan on being outdoors. This sensitivity to light has to do with how the hypothalamus responds to the light stimulus. Additionally, individuals with fibromyalgia could be affected by light emitted from the television, computer screen, as well as fluorescent lights (yes, get rid of those energy saving light bulbs if you have fibromyalgia –they’re not good for you) and even the headlights of cars.
When I’m watching TV or a movie, I have to close my eyes if a scene is panning too fast or things are spinning, as that makes me feel nauseous.
Though it is rare, and typically only occurs in those with RA, fibromyalgia can lead to blindness. The condition can result in arteritis, which is inflammation in one or both of the temporal arteries. Without properly and rapidly treating this with high doses of steroids, the inflammation can end up spreading to the optical nerve, therefore resulting in partial or total blindness in the eye that is affected.