Warning: Rheumatoid Arthritis and Your Eyes

Eye problems are relatively common in people with RA, affecting up to 20% of individuals. There are two main ways RA can affect the eyes:
Dry eye: This is the most common eye problem associated with RA. It occurs when the glands that produce tears don’t make enough tears, or the tears evaporate too quickly. Dry eyes can cause a number of symptoms, including:Gritty feeling in the eyes
Burning sensation
Light sensitivity
Blurry vision
Excessive tearing (which can be the body’s attempt to compensate for dry eyes)
Uveitis: This is inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye. Uveitis can cause a number of symptoms, including:Pain in the eye
Light sensitivity
Blurry vision
Redness in the white of the eye
Floaters (tiny spots or worms that float in your vision)
Less commonly, RA can also cause other eye problems, such as:
Scleritis: Inflammation of the sclera, the white part of the eye
Corneal ulcer: An open sore on the cornea, the clear dome at the front of the eye
If you have RA and experience any changes in your vision, it’s important to see an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) right away. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent serious complications.
Here are some tips for maintaining good eye health if you have RA:
See your ophthalmologist for regular checkups, even if you’re not having any eye problems.
Use artificial tears throughout the day to keep your eyes moist.
Avoid irritants such as smoke, dust, and wind.
Wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Talk to your doctor about your RA medications and whether they may be contributing to dry eyes.