Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory autoimmune disorder.
Your immune system misunderstands the role of your joints and attacks them. This causes inflammation which can cause joints to become stiff, painful, and swollen.
Inflammation can also cause damage to other parts of the body such as your skin and blood vessels. Eye complications are not uncommon with RA. Continue reading to learn how RA can affect your eyes.
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Is rheumatoid arthritis possible to affect your eyes?
Your immune system is malfunctioning, which can lead to RA. Inflammation can cause inflammation in many parts of the body, including your eyes.
These complications could include:
- Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (Sjogren’s)
- Episcleritis is a reddening caused by inflammation.
- Scleritis is also known as inflammation-related redness
- Uveitis is a swelling of the middle layer in the eye.
- Rheumatoid-associated eye symptoms
Dryness is the most common complaint in people with RA. This is called keratoconjunctivitis, sicca. The inflammation caused by RA can cause abnormalities in the tear cells (lacrimal), which significantly reduce fluid secretion.
Dry eyes can be more prevalent in the latter part of the day when the tears from the tear system (systemic), have dried up and evaporated.
This condition can also cause redness, blurred vision and a feeling like there is something wrong with your eye.
RA and redness around the eyes are most likely due to scleritis (inflammation in the white portion of the eye).
Eye drops won’t make scleritis go away. Scleritis can also cause light sensitivity and pain in the eyes.
Uveitis, another possible complication of RA is seen mostly in the juvenile form.
Uveitis is a condition where the uvea (the layer between the retina & the white of your eye) becomes inflamed. Uveitis can cause blurred vision, redness, pain, light sensitiveness, and even pain.
Uveitis is most commonly caused by RA, or systemic juvenile inflammatory arthritis. Uveitis can be treated, but it can lead to blindness if left untreated.
Other eye inflammation, such as uveitis, can cause floaters. These are dark spots that appear in your field of vision.
If you are suffering from RA or eye symptoms, it is important that you seek treatment. If left untreated, dry eyes, scleritis or uveitis or Sjogren’s can lead to the cornea becoming scratched, scarred or ulcerated. Corneal damage may cause permanent vision loss.
Sjogren’s disease is another type that can be associated with RA. Sjogren’s is a condition that affects the glands of the body that make moisture. It can cause dry, itchy eyes and a gritty feeling in the eyes, like sand trapped in your eyes. As a result of the dryness, excessive tearing may also occur.
Other symptoms of Sjogren’s disease include:
- Dry mouth and more cavities (caries).
- Having trouble speaking and swallowing
- mouth sores
- Dry and cracked skin
- Swollen glands and joints
- Chronic cough
- Gastroesophageal reflux Disease (GERD).
Eye problems related to RA
Early detection of RA is crucial for successful treatment. RA will reduce the likelihood of developing eye problems.
Eye drops, topical moisturizers, and warm compresses can be used to treat eye problems. These products can be used to relieve itching, dryness, and redness. Best eye drops are those that don’t contain preservatives.
Your doctor may prescribe a topical steroid to treat severe inflammations that won’t respond well to eye drops. They are typically applied two times daily to treat the underlying inflammation.