While the targets and mechanisms of systemic inflammatory diseases are variable, many of these diseases share similar manifestations in the eye. Therefore, through the course of these autoimmune conditions, it is imperative to keep in mind the potential ocular ramifications associated with these diseases.
Whether directly through immunologic mechanisms, or indirectly through the development various pathologic states such as hypertension, hypercoagulability, arteritis, and mass effect, autoimmune diseases have significant potential to threaten patients' vision.
When ocular or orbital disease is detected in patients with autoimmune conditions, ophthalmologists should consider a differential diagnosis with the inflammatory state in mind.
While the involvement of the uvea and cornea is usually more common than the posterior segment, ocular manifestations of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases may also present as neuro-ophthalmologic signs involving the optic nerve, retina, and cranial nerves. These pathologies can include, but are not limited to optic neuritis, a spectrum of ischemic optic neuropathies (arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy, non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy, posterior ischemic optic neuropathy),...