A comprehensive review sheds light on the impact vitiligo can have on your eye health. This information may help you manage your eye health effectively and understand why regular eye check-ups are important.
- Vitiligo may affect your eye health in addition to causing a loss of skin pigmentation.
- Dry eye disease and changes in eye pigmentation are common in people living with vitiligo.
- There may be an increased risk of normal-tension glaucoma, a specific type of glaucoma, for those with vitiligo.
- Regular eye exams are critical for detecting and managing these potential complications early on.
Vitiligo is characterized by a loss of skin and hair pigmentation due to the destruction of melanocytes, the cells that produce pigment. Melanocytes are not only present in skin and hair but also in the eyes, where they help protect against ultraviolet radiation and oxidative damage. This means that vitiligo can lead to certain changes in your eyes, such as dry eye disease and changes in pigmentation.
The Ocular Manifestations of Vitiligo
Research published in the medical journal BMC Ophthalmology has linked vitiligo to certain eye health issues. The most commonly observed conditions include dry eye disease and changes in the pigmentation of different parts of the eye, particularly the retina. Some studies also suggest that people with vitiligo might have a higher risk of developing normal-tension glaucoma, a type of glaucoma that is not associated with increased pressure in the eye. However, there is less evidence associating vitiligo with an increased risk of cataracts or uveitis, an inflammatory condition affecting parts of the eye.
Managing Your Eye Health With Vitiligo
Knowing that vitiligo can have detrimental effects on your eye health highlights the importance of regular eye check-ups. If you have vitiligo affecting the skin around your eyes (periocular vitiligo), it’s particularly important to monitor for symptoms of dry eyes and changes in eye pigmentation. If you’re older and have used systemic steroids or topical steroids around the eyes, it would be wise to have regular checks for glaucoma as well.
If you’re living with vitiligo, you have a higher risk of experiencing dry eye disease and changes in eye pigmentation. Further research is ongoing to help us understand more about vitiligo’s impact on eye health and develop effective strategies to manage it.
LeWitt, T., Tauscher, R., Obiofuma, G., Peterson, J., Haddadin, R., & Kundu, R. V. (2023). Ocular manifestations of vitiligo: a systematic review. BMC Ophthalmology, 23(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12886-023-02777-9