Friday, April 19, 2024

Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Cause Eye Problems

How Are Eye Problems Caused By Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis Treated

Arthritis and the Effect it Has on Our Vision

If eye problems occur, your rheumatologist and ophthalmologist will discuss ways to treat them to prevent permanent eye damage.

If uveitis is diagnosed, different types of eye drops might be prescribed. Eye drops to dilate the eyes may be prescribed in order to keep the pupils open and help prevent scarring.

Steroid drops might be prescribed to reduce swelling and decrease inflammation. However, long-term use of steroid eye drops can have significant side effects such as glaucoma and cataracts.

If eye drops are not effective in decreasing the inflammation, oral steroids might be prescribed. Oral or injectable methotrexate is now often used to treat significant eye inflammation so the long-term side effects of steroids can be avoided. In cases of severe uveitis, new “biologic modifying medicines,” such as infliximab or adalimumab, may be used.

Discover What Steps Others Take To Control Their Ra On Tippi


Scleritis is an inflammation of the sclera, the white outer layer of the eye. Symptoms can include pain , swelling, redness, blurred vision, tearing, and sensitivity to light. If you experience any of these issues, you should be evaluated by your ophthalmologist, Orbai says. And dont delay seeking treatment. Time is of the essence to prevent eye damage and vision loss, she says. If it ends up being scleritis, your ophthalmologist may prescribe corticosteroid eye drops and possibly immunomodulator medications, she says.

Iritis and Uveitis

A quick anatomy lesson: The uvea is the middle part of the eye between the sclera and retina, which is in the back of the eye. The iris is the colored part of the eye that helps control how much light enters.

Uveitis is an inflammation of the uvea iritis, a form of uveitis, is an inflammation of the iris. Symptoms include blurred vision dark, floating spots in your vision eye pain redness and sensitivity to light.

Treatment for either condition depends on the symptoms, Orbai explains. Some options include corticosteroids, Trexall , Humira , and Remicade . Your ophthalmologist will determine the right course of treatment for you based on your symptoms.

Medication Complications

The Bottom Line for Your Eyes

Anyone living with RA should see an ophthalmologist yearly, Orbai recommends. Only an ophthalmologist can diagnose and rule out possible eye problems in people with RA, she says.

Talk With Others Who Understand

On myRAteam, more than 148,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with RA.

Are you living with rheumatoid arthritis and eye conditions? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

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Eye Concern #: A Pink Eye From Episcleritis

Episcleritis is inflammation of the episclera, the outermost layer of the sclera . It looks similar to pinkeye, says Dr. Feinberg. But this is different: Pinkeye is due to infection episcleritis is inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. How to distinguish between the two? Though episcleritis looks red and irritated, much like pinkeye, it doesnt discharge or cause you to wake up with your eyes glued shut like pinkeye can. Episcleritis is relatively benign.

Which Eye Conditions Are Caused By Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Dry eyes

Dry eyes are one of the most common problems caused by RA. This is because RA causes inflammation in your eyes tear glands, reducing fluid output in the eyes. This in turn leads to an itchy, grit-like sensation in your eyes, resulting in a red appearance and occasionally blurred vision. Dry eyes usually can be treated with over the counter eye drops, or punctal plugs and thermoflow treatment in more severe cases. It is important to treat dry eyes as, if ignored, the condition can cause corneal damage.


Scleritis is a condition whereby the whites of your eyes the sclera become red and inflamed. You might also experience light sensitivity, blurred vision or eye pain alongside this. Normal hydrating eye drops wont help this inflammation, so your doctor may prescribe steroid eye drops or immunomodulator medications. If you notice any of the symptoms of scleritis, its crucial that you seek medical help as quickly as possible. If left untreated, your vision can worsen beyond repair.

Iritis and uveitis




Corneal damage

Retinal vascular occlusion

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How Those With Arthritis Can Help Protect Their Eyes

Its crucial for patients managing their arthritis to stay on top of their eye health. At Florida Eye Specialists, our physicians provide comprehensive eye health exams that check for symptoms of the conditions associated with arthritis, and help you treat problems before they do lasting damage. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and keep the effects of arthritis at bay.

  • Tags: arthritis, Cataracts, Dry Eye, dry eyes, Eye health, florida eye specialists, Glaucoma, Vision Problems

Inflammation & Dry Eye

Because of the lack of basal tears, in other words, the level of tears that you need to keep your eyes from drying out you might experience inflammation. Inflammation is probably the least of your worries in this case.

Your eyes might feel itchy, puffy, and theyre red in colour as they dry out with the air. If the inflammation goes insufficiently treated, it could lead to tissue damage on your eyes outer surface.

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Stomach Pain Or Indigestion

RA and medicines used to treat it are linked to mouth and stomach ulcers, stomach bleeding, acid reflux, diarrhea, and constipation. Painful diverticulitis and colitis are also possible if you have RA.

RA drugs like NSAIDs often cause ulcers or an upset stomach.

Belly pain is sometimes a sign of a rare RA complication called rheumatoid vasculitis â when inflammation spreads to your blood vessels. Weight loss and lack of appetite are other symptoms. Vasculitis is serious, so see a doctor right away. Learn more about vasculitis symptoms and types.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Causes Inflammation In The Joints And Eyes

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis? | Johns Hopkins Rheumatology

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes painful swelling in the bodys tissues. RA usually affects the joints, because their connective tissue becomes inflamed. Our eyes are made up of this same collagen-rich tissue, which can make them a target for inflammation.

Common eye problems related to rheumatoid arthritis include dryness and inflammation. Over time, its possible for more serious eye conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma to occur.

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How Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect The Eyes

The main ways in which RA can affect your eyes are:

  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca : The inflammation that RA causes can negatively affect tear glands, reducing fluid secretion resulting in dryness. The symptoms include a feeling of dirt or debris in the eyes, redness ad blurred vision.
  • Scleritis: In this condition, RA causes inflammation on the sclera , which becomes thinner with the swelling and can easily split with a minor injury. It is more likely to happen among people between 40 to 70 years old. Symptoms of scleritis include reddening that does not fade, itchiness, sporadic vision problems, pain and swelling.
  • Uveitis: In Uveitis, RA causes inflammation in the uvea. Uvea is the vascular section of the eye found between the retina and the sclera. Symptoms of the condition include pain, redness, light sensitivity, and blurred vision.

The different eye conditions that RA causes call for immediate doctor’s attention and treatment. Left unchecked, they could easily cause scratching, scarring, and even ulceration of the cornea. These or other negative effects of the conditions can lead to loss of vision.

Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis & Getting Regular Eye Exams Will Keep Your Eyes Healthy

A rheumatologist will diagnose rheumatoid arthritis, but if you think you have this condition and your symptoms include itching or dry eyes, pain, or vision problems, you need to also work with an ophthalmologist. They can prescribe eye drops or other treatments to help you manage eye issues associated with this condition. They can also inform you of potential vision-related side effects from certain rheumatoid arthritis medications.

Treatments include a combination of eye drops, medications, and lifestyle changes.

  • Use a humidifier to keep the air in your home from becoming too dry and irritating your eyes.
  • Use artificial tears or eye drops to keep your eyes moist.
  • Take prescription corticosteroid eye drops if necessary.
  • Take your rheumatoid arthritis medication as prescribed to reduce overall inflammation.

You cannot prevent conditions like cataracts or glaucoma from developing, but you can manage these chronic eye diseases with regular checkups and guidance from your ophthalmologist. Eye surgery for these serious conditions may become necessary. Work with your eye doctor and rheumatologist to understand how chronic inflammation and medications to manage this autoimmune disorder may impact your bodys ability to heal.

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What Doctors Are Saying

A lot of my patients have seen great success in using a combination of scheduled in-practice treatments as well as daily, at home treatments to improve management of Dry Eye.

Dr. Jeff Goodhew

Oakville, ON

With advancing technology we now can image the damaged structures that can cause dry eye disease and recommend preventive measures to improve future eye health.

Dr. Trevor Miranda

Duncan, BC

Practicing with a focus on dry eye disease has allowed our patients to get appropriate and adequate care for a disease that has been under diagnosed for decades. Finally we have the tools and scientific support to get people the help they need to preserve their visual comfort.

Dr. Richard Maharaj

Treatment Of Eye Problems Tied To Ra


First, your rheumatologist will treat the RA, which will also help your eye problem. This might start with over-the-counter drugs like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , but it could also include other medicines, like steroids. They may also send you to your eye doctor.

If that happens, depending on the type of eye problem you have, you may get eye drops or ointment with steroids to ease inflammation. If what’s going on with your eyes is more severe, your eye doctor may give you oral steroids, and if needed, drugs that power down your immune system, like biologic medicines. You would get these if your eye problem comes from an overactive immune system, the same thing that causes RA.

For dry eyes, ointments to moisten and protect your eyes or drops can help.

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What Is The Role Of The Rheumatologist

Rheumatologist become involved in the care of patients with eye disease when the eye disease is difficult to control. Rheumatologist have experience in the diagnosis of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. They can further evaluate the patient for systemic conditions that can be associated with eye inflammation. They also have extensive knowledge of the immunosuppressive medications that may be used to treat the disease. They can monitor for potential side effects of the medications being used as well. The role of the rheumatologist is important in the care of patients with eye inflammatory disease so regular follow up is necessary.

How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects The Eyes

Autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, are caused by a glitch in the bodys immune system. The immune system is meant to fight off infection to keep us healthy or to help us heal.

In autoimmune diseases, the immune system also fights the healthy cells by mistake. This often leads to redness, pain and swelling in the area being attacked by the immune system.

RA targets connective tissue, which is made up largely of a protein called collagen. Collagen is also the main component that makes up the cornea and sclera of the eye. The presence of these tissues, among many others in and around the eyes, allow RA symptoms to appear in the eyes.

Dryness is the most common symptom experienced by people with RA. The glands responsible for keeping the eye moist the lacrimal and meibomian glands are damaged by the immune system. This causes a condition called secondary Sjogrens syndrome, which is often related to RA. However, its possible for Sjogrens syndrome to occur alone .

Eye inflammation is another common ocular symptom of RA. The immune system attacks the collagen-rich tissues within the eye. This can cause the tissues to become irritated and inflamed.

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Get Treatment For Dry Eye Regardless Of Its Cause

Whether your dry eye symptoms have a fundamental cause or theyre a distant consequence of an autoimmune disorder like rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogrens syndrome youll need to get treatment as best you can. Optometrists who provide care for eye diseases can save you a lot of the headache that comes with it. Contact us, if you have an autoimmune disorder and youre looking at eyecare options. Living as comfortably as you can is within your reach.

Eye Dryness Irritation Pain Or Blurred Vision

Rheumatoid Arthritis, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment.

Several conditions that affect the eyes are associated with rheumatoid arthritis. These conditions may be temporary or life-long and can cause a wide range of symptoms.

  • Sjögrens syndrome can cause dry eye as well as dry mouth. This condition affects the bodys ability to produce saliva and tears. About 30% of people with RA develop Sjögrens syndrome.1
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca2,3 affects 15% to 25% of people with RA.4 This condition occurs when the eyes cannot produce enough tears. The lack of moisture may cause eyes to feel dry, irritated, itchy, burning, and/or sensitive to light.
  • Episcleritis2 can cause eye irritation, redness, and swelling. Episcleritis may only affect one small part of an eyeball. The affected area may appear raised, red, and/or yellowish. This condition typically goes away on its own, but it can be treated medically.
  • Scleritis2,3 can cause deep aching pain in the eye. The eye may water excessively and be sensitive to light. Part or all of the eye may become discolored, appearing red or purple. This is an uncommon but serious condition that can permanently affect vision.
  • Keratitis,2,3 or inflammation of the cornea, can cause blurred vision and sensitivity to bright light. It may feel like there is something stuck in the eye.

Report changes in vision to a health care provider immediately.

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Eye Concern #: A Red Painful Eye From Scleritis

Another type of eye inflammation, scleritis is more concerning than episcleritis because the inflammation is more severe and involves the sclera, the next layer down in the white of the eye. People with RA, as well as other inflammatory or autoimmune diseases, are at increased risk for scleritis. Symptoms include redness and pain, and it can lead to blindness, says Dr. Bhatt. The eye may also have a bluish tinge in the later stage. Patients with scleritis usually make a doc appointment right away because the pain, while not severe or stabbing, is difficult to tolerate.

Treating Dry Eye Syndrome

In good news, dry eye syndrome is relatively easy to treat with moisturizing eye drops and eye ointments at night, says Dr. Feinberg. Mainly we use over-the-counter drops they dont have to be prescription. He recommends choosing a brand thats free from preservatives to avoid irritating the eye further. If over-the-counter fixes arent doing the job, there are prescription medications that stimulate the glands to produce moisture, such as Salagen or Evoxac .

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What Causes Eye Problems In Ra

It is not well understood how rheumatoid arthritis directly causes dry eye syndrome, scleritis, or uveitis. However, studies have shown that RA damages the connective tissues that surround the ends of the joints. Connective tissue is entirely made up of collagen, which also primarily makes up the eye. Therefore, an inflammatory response caused by RA can also cause swelling and inflammation that leads to tissue damage within the eyes.

Eye Concern #: Retinal Toxicity

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Cruel irony: Some of the medications that we use to treat rheumatoid arthritis can potentially cause eye problems, says Dr. Feinberg. One top culprit? Quinolines , which are classified as anti-malaria drugs but are commonly used for RA because they treat inflammation. They can build up in the eye and affect vision or even damage the back of the eye and cause loss of vision, Dr. Feinberg explains, a condition called retinal toxicity.

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What Eye Problems Might Affect Children With Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Uveitis is the most common eye problem that can develop in children with JIA. Uveitis is an inflammation of inner parts of the eye. The uvea consists of the iris , the ciliary body and the choroid .

Uveitis might also be known as iritis or iridocyclitis, depending on which part of the eye is affected by inflammation.

If the inflammation is not detected and treated early, scarring and vision problems can occur. Glaucoma, cataracts and permanent visual damage are all complications that could result from severe uveitis.

Uveitis can occur up to one year before, at the same time as, or up to 15 years after JIA is diagnosed. It can also occur even when JIA is in remission .

The severity of the child’s joint disease does not determine how serious the uveitis might be. However, eye problems are more common in children with oligoarthritis . Eye problems are also more likely if your child has a positive blood test for antinuclear antibodies . They are most likely to occur in female toddlers.

The Structure Of The Eye And Where Arthritis Strikes

The eye is a complicated structure. Different types of arthritis can cause different types of eye problems. Its important to understand some general eye anatomy:

The entire eye is covered by a white outer coat called the sclera. The sclera is covered by a thin semi-transparent mucous membrane that has blood vessels, which is called conjunctiva.

At the very front of the eye is the cornea, which is the transparent layer that transmits and focuses light.

Behind the cornea is the iris, which is the colored part of the eye that helps regulate the amount of light that enters the eye like the diaphragm of a camera. The pupil is the dark hole in the middle of the iris, which adjusts in size to let in more or less light.

Just behind iris and pupil is the lens, which is like the lens of the camera. The lens is suspended in the eye cavity through some fine fibrils that attach to the ciliary body.

The back of the eye contains these important structures:

  • Choroid: A layer that contains blood vessels, located between the sclera and retina
  • Retina: A nerve layer that lines the back of the eye it creates electrical impulses from light that are sent to the brain via the optic nerve
  • Macula: An area in the retina with special light-sensitive cells
  • Optic nerve: A bundle of nerves that transmits visual messages from the eye to the brain

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