Looking at Fibromyalgia and Eye Problems

Looking at Fibromyalgia and Eye Problems

Through the Fog
Did you know that the eye has six 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. It’s a good idea to get your eyes checked each year. My eyesight seems to keep changing, so I need to keep updating my prescription.

Nutritional deficiencies, as well as some of the medications we take, can make our eye issues worse. Below are a few of the issues FM patients can have with our eyes:

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.

Difficulties with night driving: We often have a real problem driving at night because the lights of incoming cars bothers those of us with FM more than most. I haven’t been able to drive at night for years because of that.

Dry eyes: When your eye muscles can’t function properly due to FM, dry eye sometimes is a result. I use a lubricating eye drop to deal with my dry eye. It was actually my ophthalmologist who first told me that my dry eye was related to FM. Supposedly, if you use the drops consistently it can reverse the dry eye. If you are older than 50, a menopausal woman, have a thyroid disorder (I’m hypothyroid), or have a medical condition that reduces tear production (such as Sjogren’s or Sicca syndrome), you’re much more likely to experience dry eye.

Eye pain: Lack of sleep, stress, anxiety and fatigue can exacerbate eye pain. Dry eye and cluster headaches also cause me to have eye pain.

Potential blindness: I was shocked to find the nerves that lead to the eyes can become inflamed due to our FM, and in extreme cases can cause partial or total blindness.

Light sensitivity: I know I prefer dim lighting and never turn a light on until it gets dark. Bright lights can trigger headaches for me. I never go out in the sun without sunglasses.

Shift-of-focus issues: 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.

There are many more issues related to eyes and fibromyalgia. Do you experience these or other symptoms?

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Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.

46 comments

  1. Terry says:

    I have Chronic Dry Eye. It’s so hurtful and my eye Dr., put plugs in all 4 tear ducts! He put me on Restatis and that didn’t help as I was using Refresh Tears around the clock including the Restatis!
    Now he switched me to Xidra which has been wonderful and my eyes don’t hurt nearly as bad! I wash them out everyday wit Ocusoft eye towelettes and a warm washcloth. This has helped my eyes immensely.

  2. Denise Bault says:

    I have all those eye problems as well! Blurred vision, can’t drive at night, can’t stand lights unless they are dimmed, have dry eyes, have to use artificial tears, hate fluorescent lights (they give me headaches,) have to wear sunglasses EVERYWHERE I go and leave them on even indoors at restaurants or stores…it’s ridiculous!

  3. Dianne Wilber says:

    Thanks 4 this article Robin !I`ve had very dry eyes for about20 years. FM causes it we know but several of my meds do 2 . My eye doctor told me that my eyes are so dry that the drops he puts in + the drops I use many times a day hardly penetrate my eye`s surface + in fact are repelled by my eye ! At a fibromyalgia group I used 2 attend in person ,we were told that dry eyes alone can cause blindness ! I hope that`s not true .

  4. Gail Wilson Webb says:

    I was diagnosed with chronic dry eyes, too. The drops are hard for me to get in my eyes so I looked for alternatives. I found several things that work. I take hyaluronic acid capsuleso for moisture, turmeric pills for the inflammation, lutein for eye health and use an argan oil/caster oil combo on my lashes and lids for more moisture. My eyes are much better!

  5. James milne says:

    This article is spot on for me I get all of the symptoms, I usually just ride it out until the symptoms stop, it is not pleasant at all.

  6. Debbie says:

    You know how you read an article and think I’m not alone someone else actually has exactly what I have. I never associated my blurred vision with my fibromyalgia but to much screen time kills my eyes. Thank you for writing this and giving me this information

    • Robin Dix says:

      Debbie, I notice too much screen time makes my eyes worse as well. To give myself a break, I’ll close my eyes for awhile and listen to an audio book or podcast

  7. Sonya says:

    I’m curious if anyone else has trouble wearing contacts? If any of the above problems trigger a headache, my eyes water and burn and itch until they literally wash out my contacts. It’s horrible. Then wearing glasses irritates my face,

    • Heather Lynn says:

      Yes!!
      I’ve been wearing contacts for 20 yrs with no problem at all- I’d even do the worst, and sleep in them for weeks at a time (not proud of that! Lol).

      Once I was diagnosed with Fibro in 07′, I noticed the dry eyes and they would get so irritated that the contact would literally just pop out. But at the time, glasses weren’t very practical at my job. So I wore them anyways.

      2012 rolls around and I brake my RT foot. Which ended up turning into CRPS :-(.

      Ever since the CRPS diagnosis, I haven’t been able to wear my contacts for more than a couple hrs, once in a great while (if I’m lucky). They turn bright red, burn like crazy, puff up, itch like crazy to the point that they just fall right out.

      *There was a point where I was occasionally using the kind you wear for 1 day & then toss. That way, if they get to irritated while I’m out, I can just pop them out and not worry about needing to store them.
      I definitely recommend going that route for anyone who has been having these issues, but cant go “contact free”.

      Fibro (and CRPS) sucks monkey butt! But we can’t let go of hope. With all the technology and research going on, they’ll figure out how to fix us :-).

    • Carrie Miller says:

      I used wear contacts all the time. Haven’t been able to wear them for years. Just diagnosed with fibromyalgia few weeks ago, and my eye doctor automatically set appointment because I already have thin spot on back of eye that can rupture if I get hit in the face or head. But I too am sinsitive to light. I hate driving at night and avoid it as much as possible. Of late my eyes have been burning and iching as well tearing up but feels like I have sand in them. Happens mostly at night. I am also a diabetic as an afterthought.

  8. Kevin Jones says:

    I have fibromyalgia and I have all of the above, especially dry eyes! I can’t use artificial tears, I have to use lubricating gel or ointment in my eyes especially at night.
    Thanks for the article Robin.

  9. Cheree50 says:

    I found this article very interesting. I’ve had FM for 23 years and it seems I’m constantly learning about new symptoms of this condition all the time! I have suffered from dry/itchy eyes for years, without ever knowing the cause??? My dry eyes don’t seem to be as bad as others that have commented, but I do use “natural tears” formula eye drops all the time. I do have problems with bright lights, and especially the “shift of focus” issues that was mentioned. I get spells of vertigo, and occasionally, I get a stabbing pain that feels like someone stabbed a needle in my eye. I am now assuming it too, is a FM symptom. Again, interesting article. Thanks for posting.

    • Lesley Boyce says:

      I’m learning lots todayI’ve gotget blurred vision changes all the time .I have been diagnosed with fybromyalgia for over 30years now plus other conditions ,but in all this me no one has ever told me fybromyalgia effects the rous system and the eyes so I’m finding his interesting but are too

    • Lesley boyce says:

      Glad you mentioned the stabbing pain in eyes I have that too as well as the dry eye issues and blurred vision .never actually been told it’s connected to fybro so interesting reading all these comments

  10. Terry says:

    I have the worst Chronic Dry Eye my
    Dr., has said he’s ever seen.They are doing all they can to save my sight but it is a losing battle! Mine is so bad I have stoppers in all 4 tear ducts and I also use Xidra 2 times a day and refresh tears the rest of the time. I have previously used Restasis but it didn’t help at all. My eyes are so dry that everytime I blinked it would scratch my cornea and literally feel like a paper cut in my eye!Imake no tears whatsoever and I have Sjorgrens Syndrome. So,yes I and my eye Dr’s., are fighting to se my sight!I can barely see anything out of my left eye which is the worst one!
    I hope none of you gt this because its a pain….. real pain.

  11. Karen says:

    I have had fibro and Sjogrens for 50+ years. I take RSO capsules for pain which helps a lot and I’ve been able to get off 50% of my meds. My eyes are still dry but not as bad as they used to be. I also take 2600 mg of flaxseed oil (capsule form) which helps the dry eye immensely. When I increase my water intake and reduce the caffeine I find that too helps. Good luck everyone and keep sharing the tips!

  12. Mary Carrazza says:

    Hi Robin.
    Thankyou for your article. I have all the above eye symptoms – at various times, on various days. The most disconcerting were the bright white flashing lights at the outer corner if my eyes – but like most things – we adapt. My eyes also “leak” from the outer corners – a gel like substance which dries into tiny crystals. Weird. Again not every day – but often. My GP said it was dry eye – but that doesn’t make sense. I see an Opthamologist each year – so I’ll check with him on my next visit. FM is such a challenge in so many ways.
    Once again – thankyou for writing about an issue we don’t discuss very often within the FM community – but we all seem to have some eye issues.
    Cheers
    Mary

  13. Sharon Pullam says:

    Last year I had cataract surgery. It was done by a very prominent doctor here in Toronto. It didn’t come out as planned. He figured it must have had to do with an error in the measurements. I am wondering if my eye muscles changed at a critical point, ie perhaps right before the surgery. Has anyone else had or heard of this problem?

  14. Tracy says:

    Hi, I also have FM. My biggest issue is severe pain in my eyes. I have an eye specialist due to a rare eye disease. She sees nothing that might cause this pain. My neurologist sent me to a rheumatologist who said that FM doesn’t cause eye pain. I listen to TV. I don’t feel I have dry eyes but I use drops. I’m lost.

  15. Elle Tergina says:

    It was my ophthalmologist that told me that I should go to my primary care physician, after asking if I had ever been diagnosed with fibro.
    My vision is in constant flex. Drives me crazy!
    Great to see this post. Thanks.

  16. Cathe says:

    Are there any studies or published articles that you know of? I’d like something to show my Dr. He isn’t likely to agree unless I can provide him with something to “study” that he can relate to and be the facilitator for the care that may be outside his current scope. I save him time by providing it to him. He likes our arrangement.

  17. Kathy Peebles says:

    I was dx with fibro sevral years ago. Could not afford to quit work, so fought against the pain, etc. Three years ago, both parents passed within 3 months of eah other, add in major depression, chronic fatigue and chronic pain, and NOW the vision problems. Haven’t been able to work x21/2 years and have a disability hearing in September.

    • Robin Dix says:

      Kathy, I can’t imagine how hard it was to lose both your parents in such a short period of time, I’m so sorry! Let us know how your hearing goes ok?

  18. Lori Lesser says:

    Robin, thank you so much for this information. I was formally diagnosed a little over 2 years ago. I’ve suffered with symptoms for years but finally found the right doctor. Until today I didn’t realize that it could be FM causing my vision problems. I have blurry vision off and on, extreme sensitivity to lights to the point that I wear yellow tinted lenses at work and night, eye pain and drainage. I don’t have dry eye problems, thank goodness. FM is so strange in the way that it affects each of us.

    • Terry says:

      I do have Chronic Dry Eyes. I wear plugs in all 4 tear ducts and they are so dry at times it scratches my corneas very badly! With all that everyday I have to continuously put Refresh Tears in and they still feel like sandpaper innthem all the time!

    • Joe says:

      I do use yellow tinted glasses, do you see small sparkles in your vision from time to time? I’m asking just because it causes me anxiety and want to know if it could be from FM.

  19. Lisa says:

    I have all of the symptoms as well, including the stabbing eye pain. I also have extremely puffy eyes with loss of pigment around eye(like reverse racoon look). Does anyone else have this. I rcvd my fm diagnosis a few yrs ago, but have just started treatment to relieve symptoms.

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