Rheumatoid Arthritis(RA) is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues. It is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect many joints, causing painful swelling and joint deformities. However, RA can impact other areas of the body as well, like the eyes.
Around 30-40 percent of people suffering with Rheumatoid Arthritis will also have some eye symptoms. Typically present in both eyes, symptoms can range from dry eyes to corneal damage – and can ultimately impact vision if left untreated.
The most common eye-related symptom of RA is dry eye syndrome. Dry eye is associated with burning, itching, redness, pain, and blurry vision. It can also feel like you have something stuck in your eye. Symptoms may get progressively worse as the day goes on. Wearing sunglasses, avoiding dry climates, and using special drops from your ophthalmologist can all help to manage dry eye symptoms.
RA can also cause inflammation of the outer white part of the eye, the sclera. This can be very painful and be accompanied by symptoms like sensitivity to light, blurred vision, redness, and swelling. Although much more rare than dry eye, it is important to see your doctor right away if you like you are experiencing symptoms of scleritis.
Other parts of the eye can become inflamed also, conditions known as Iritis (inflammation of the iris) and Uvetis (inflammation of the uvea, or very center of the eye.) Some medications to treat RA symptoms may also affect your eye health and vision.
It is important for those with RA to see an ophthalmologist regularly to monitor changes in vision and eye health. If you or someone you love is looking for new treatment options when it comes to managing symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis, studies are enrolling now. Qualified participants have access to potential new RA medications, and receive care from board-certified physicians and other medical staff. Those that qualify may also be compensated for time and travel expenses. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, learn more about this exciting research opportunity by clicking HERE.