Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation, and most people think about it in terms of the joint pain that is commonly associated with the condition. However, there are many other ways that arthritis can affect your physiological functions, including those related to the eyes.
This is especially true when it comes to rheumatoid arthritis, which is one of the most common forms. While it is important for everyone to undergo regular eye health exams to increase the chances of catching eye conditions early, patients with arthritis need to be as proactive as possible in order to protect their eyesight.
The link between arthritis and eye health
On the surface, a disease that mainly causes inflammation in the joints may have little connection to the eyes. But one of the many amazing things about the human eye is that it is essentially a physiological miniature of the entire human body in many ways.
There are many different eye conditions that can result due to arthritis, and they vary in intensity and severity. In general, women are more likely to develop arthritis-related eye problems than men. Also, eye conditions tend to progress as the arthritis worsens.
Common eye conditions related to arthritis
Dry Eye Syndrome (Keratitis sicca)
Dryness of the eyes is the most common condition associated with rheumatoid arthritis. It typically causes mild discomfort and blurred vision, but if left untreated it can result in infection or the scarring of the cornea. Anti-inflammatories and topical ointments can be used to treat the condition.
Arthritis-related glaucoma occurs when the inflammation causes pressure to build up inside the eye. Many glaucoma patients start out with no symptoms or very mild symptoms, but eventually notice a gradual degradation in vision.
Cataracts are characterized by the clouding over of the lens, and they can be caused by rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis. As cataracts progress the vision becomes cloudier, and surgery is necessary in order to correct the condition.
Uveitis is also known as inflammation of the uvea, which is located in between the retina and the sclera. It can cause blurred vision and pain in the eye, and can be corrected with a steroidal treatment.
Scleritis is an inflammation of the sclera, and it often causes lasting eye redness, intense pain, and reduced vision. Steroidal treatment is common.
How those with arthritis can help protect their eyes
It’s 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.