Autoimmune Vascular Disease and the Eye Study Guide

Jul 15, 2021
1 min read


Autoimmune diseases have a variety of systemic manifestations; the eye is frequently involved in numerous autoimmune and rheumatologic disorders. Ocular manifestations are frequently nonspecific and different diseases may affect different parts of the eye, but early recognition of symptoms can help avoid or delay both systemic and ocular sequelae.

The most common autoimmune diseases that affect the eyes can be separated into four categories:

  1. Rheumatologic
  2. Dermatologic
  3. Endocrine
  4. Vascular

In this final part of our four-part series, we discuss giant cell arteritis, an autoimmune vascular disease that affects the eye.

Giant Cell Arteritis1-8

Giant cell arteritis - epidemiology

  • Disease
    • 1:100 women
    • 1:200 men
    • Mean age: 76.7
    • Scandinavian descent
    • Female>male

Giant cell arteritis - mechanism

  • Vasculitis of large-medium sized arteries

Giant cell arteritis - association

  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
    • 40-50% of patients with GCA have PMR
    • 10% of patients with PMR have GCA

Giant cell arteritis - presentation

  • Subacute (gradual onset)
    • General
      • Constitutional symptoms
      • Headache (over temple(s))
      • PMR
      • Musculoskeletal pain
      • Synovitis
      • Sore throat
      • Headache
      • Jaw claudication
      • Swallowing claudication/dysphagia
      • Tongue claudication
      • Limb claudication
    • Visual symptoms
      • Amaurosis fugax
      • Permanent vision loss
        • Painless/sudden
        • Causes
          • Arteritic Anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (AAION)
          • Central or branch retinal artery occlusion
          • Posterior ischemic optic neuropathy (PION)
      • Diplopia
        • Ischemia to oculomotor system
      • Charles Bonnet Syndrome
About Maxwell A. Levi

Maxwell A. Levi is a 3rd year Medical Student with a passion for ophthalmology at Rowan in NJ.

About Alanna Nattis, DO, FAAO

Dr. Alanna Nattis is a cornea, cataract and refractive surgeon, as well as the Director of Clinical Research at SightMD. She is an Ophthalmology Editor for Eyes On Eyecare, and serves as an associate professor in ophthalmology and surgery at …

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