Can rheumatoid arthritis affect the eyes?

Rheumatoid arthritis is primarily a joint disease. However, RA occasionally affects other parts of the including the eyes. Eye conditions associated with RA include:

(1) Dry eyes – you can use preservative free artificial eye drops to ease the discomfort of dry eyes. It is also possible that this could be a symptom of Sjogren’s, an autoimmune disease associated with RA. If you suspect this may be the case, follow up with your doctor.

(2) Uveitis – inflammation of the interior part of the eye. Symptoms of uveitis include redness and pain, light sensitivity and blurred vision.

(3) Episcleritis – inflammation of the white part of the eye. Symptoms include sudden eye discomfort and/or redness.

(4) Glaucoma – inflammation of the eye’s drainage system leads to glaucoma, a condition that can result in blindness. Signs and symptoms include gradual vision loss, eye pain or blurred vision.

(5) Cataracts – clouding of the lens of the eye as a result of inflammation within the eye and long term use of corticosteroid medications often prescribed to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms include blurred, cloudy or dim vision.

If have RA and experience eye pain, vision changes or other eye problems, consult an ophthalmologist for evaluation. Also, let your rheumatologist know. Early treatment can prevent vision consequences.

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