How does fibromyalgia affect the eyes?
Published Sep 22, 2022 • By Candice Salomé
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that causes severely disabling muscle pain. The nature of this pain is not known and it is accompanied by other symptoms: severe fatigue, memory and concentration problems, sleep disorders, anxiety, etc.
Other symptoms, such as the eye problems, which are not often talked about, may also develop, .
But what is the link between the eyes and fibromyalgia? What are the different eye disorders the disease can cause? And what can be done about it?
We explain it all in our article!
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by persistent diffuse pain, intense fatigue and sensitivity to pressure.
The perception of pain is distorted in patients with fibromyalgia because pain control pathways in the central nervous system are altered. A stimulation that is usually painless is perceived as painful by fibromyalgia patients (this is called allodynia). Patients often say that they "hurt all over".
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, others may be present and may vary from patient to patient. They include (but are not limited to) the following symptoms:
- Anxiety and sleep disorders,
- Functional colopathy and painful periods,
- Digestive disorders,
- Breathing difficulties,
- Intolerance to cold or heat,
- Memory and/or attention problems,
- Frequent and painful urination,
- Some eye problems.
What eye problems can fibromyalgia cause?
Fibromyalgia affects the body's nervous system and, in fact, the six main muscles of the eye that control its movements may also be affected. Indeed, fibromyalgia makes the body's nerves more sensitive, which can lead to certain eye problems.
Dry eye syndrome
Patients with fibromyalgia regularly have dry eyes, but also dry nose and mouth, because the disease affects their mucous membranes. Dry eyes can be particularly uncomfortable for those who wear contact lenses.
By using vitamin A eye drops, you can keep your eyes moist and relieve the discomfort caused by dryness.
Double or blurred vision
Some fibromyalgia patients have difficulty concentrating when driving, reading or doing any other daily activity.
Because fibromyalgia creates muscle problems, patients cannot always focus with their eyes and their vision may be intermittently blurred. The intensity of this symptom varies a lot depending on the time of day and on the patient's activities.
Some patients, faced with such frequent changes in vision, start to update their glasses or contact lenses prescription more often that it is necessary.
If this is your case, it is advisable to see your ophthalmologist to discuss the best way to manage these symptoms and to find the most suitable treatment plan.
Patients with fibromyalgia regularly develop light sensitivity, called "photophobia". They feel pain and are forced to squint under normal lighting conditions. For many patients, this can cause difficulties both indoors and outdoors.
In this case you can opt for sunglasses. However, there are other solutions and your optometrist can suggest wearing special glasses for driving or for working in front of a computer, for example.
Light spots or flashes
Several studies have shown that fibromyalgia patients tend to see floaters (small, more or less translucent spots or debris in the field of vision) much more often than the majority of people. Other patients report seeing spots or flashes of light in their field of vision.
This is often harmless. However, it is advisable to talk to your doctor, especially if these symptoms occur suddenly.
To reduce the eye problems associated with fibromyalgia, it is necessary to get enough sleep to rest your eyes and to reduce the eyestrain that accumulates during the day.
You can also take a few minutes several times a day to close your eyes, relax, and reduce the strain. Eye relaxation exercises may also be useful.
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