The eyes

Vision is very often affected in APS patients as the eyes are so closely linked with the brain.

Visual disturbances can take the form of:

  • flashing lights
  • zigzag patterns
  • seeing ‘stars’ or ‘dots’
  • blurred vision
  • double vision
  • loss of vision 

Flashing lights, zigzag patterns, seeing ‘stars’ and blurred vision tend to accompany the headaches and migraines which are common in APS patients, but can also sometimes happen independently. It is more likely that these symptoms will occur in both eyes.

Double vision and total, or partial, visual loss can result from clots on the brain or optic nerve, and are also sometimes caused by a decreased blood supply to the eye. These symptoms usually occur in one eye only. Sudden visual loss can be transient and involve the loss of one quarter or one half of the field of vision, but can also lead to acute blindness in one eye in extreme cases.

APS patients can occasionally develop optic neuritis. Optic neuritis is inflammation of the optic nerve and it too may cause sudden, reduced vision in the affected eye. Other symptoms include loss of colour vision and pain when the eye moves. The exact cause is unknown but sudden inflammation of the nerve connecting the eye and the brain (optic nerve) can injure the insulation (myelin sheath) surrounding each nerve fibre, causing the nerve to swell.

People who also have Sjogrens syndrome will often have dry, itchy eyes. Other symptoms of Sjogrens can include a burning or stinging sensation in the eyes, irritated and swollen eyelids and sensitivity to light (photophobia).