Today we are going to dive into the world of fibromyalgia and the intriguing link it shares with eye symptoms. Fibromyalgia, a pesky chronic condition that messes with our muscles and throws a curveball our way, has more tricks up its sleeve than we might have imagined. You see, alongside the usual aches and pains, it turns out fibromyalgia can also affect our precious peepers!
According to NFA, or National Fibromyalgia Association, symptoms of fibromyalgia can also include disturbances in sleep, sensitive skin, headaches, dizziness and impairments in coordination, dry eyes, and problems with vision- even potentially leading to blindness.
The effects that fibromyalgia has on the eyes can severely impact an 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.
But fear not, my friends, because in this awesome summary post, we’ll take a closer look at the most talked-about articles on this topic. Buckle up as we embark on a journey of discovery, uncovering the hidden connections between fibromyalgia and those mesmerizing windows to our souls. So, let’s dig in, keep our spirits high, and shed some light on the eye symptoms associated with fibromyalgia!
What Could Happen to the Eyes of a Fibromyalgia Patient?
First of all, let’s start off by listing what can possibly happen to the eyes of an individual with fibromyalgia. In general, these are:
- Dry eyes
- Tearing up of the eyes
- Blurry/Double vision
- Sensitivity to light/touch
- Problems focusing
- General eye pain
- Eye pain when moving the eyes
- Floaters/Flashing lights
- Distorted vision
- Transitioning from looking at something near vs. far
- Macular degeneration
- Frequently changing glasses prescription
- Problems wearing contacts
Though the above problems can occur with or without fibromyalgia medications, they tend to be worse in most cases, due to the medications that were given.
Following, we will discuss in more detail some of the most common eye problems when it comes to fibromyalgia.
In an individual with fibromyalgia, the symptoms of dry eyes can range from mild to severe. Fibromyalgia tends to dry out the mucous membranes 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 the 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.
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 or 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.
Pain in the Eye
The National Fibromyalgia Association says that the 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).
Occasionally, individuals with fibromyalgia could actually develop a thick mucus over their eyes. This layer of mucus can impair vision, making some activities, such as driving at night, very dangerous.
Blurry and double vision are very common in individuals who have fibromyalgia and in many cases can be linked to other symptoms such as postural dizziness or vertigo.
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.
The most cited scientific research article is summarized below.
Summary of the Current Research – Fibromyalgia and the Eyes.
Title: Understanding Eye Symptoms in Fibromyalgia: A Summary for Patients
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain. It affects 2-5% of the general population, with higher rates in women. Eye symptoms, such as dry eyes and blurred vision, are mentioned in the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia, but they haven’t been studied extensively. This article aims to explore the presence of eye symptoms and visual problems in fibromyalgia patients.
Study Design and Methods:
The study involved 90 patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain, including 66 with fibromyalgia and 24 without fibromyalgia. Various assessments were conducted to evaluate eye symptoms and visual function. These included tests for dry eye syndrome, visual acuity, and a questionnaire to measure eye pain intensity and impact on daily life.
The study found that both fibromyalgia and non-fibromyalgia patients had similar rates of self-reported dry eye (67% and 76%, respectively) and eye pain (81% and 69%, respectively). There were no significant differences in visual acuity or other eye-related characteristics between the two groups.
These findings suggest that eye symptoms, including dry eyes and eye pain, are common in fibromyalgia patients. It is important to note that having dry eyes or eye pain does not necessarily mean a person has fibromyalgia. Further research is needed to understand the relationship between fibromyalgia and eye symptoms.
In summary, this study found that eye symptoms, such as dry eyes and eye pain, are frequently reported by both fibromyalgia and non-fibromyalgia patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain. These symptoms can impact a person’s quality of life, but they are not specific to fibromyalgia. If you experience eye symptoms, it is important to discuss them with your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.
Schuster AK, Wettstein M, Gerhardt A, Eich W, Bieber C, Tesarz J. Eye Pain and Dry Eye in Patients with Fibromyalgia. Pain Med. 2018 Dec 1;19(12):2528-2535. doi: 10.1093/pm/pny045. PMID: 29554368